Monday, November 30, 2020


“Meanwhile, we are accused by strangers on Twitter, by random people in the grocery store and by our country's elected leaders of lying or being part of a global conspiracy. Even some of our own ranks have alleged -- against all physical and statistical evidence -- that Covid-19 is "no worse than the flu" or could be fixed with herd immunity -- a myth. We cannot begin to describe the feeling of leaving a hospital ward full of patients gasping for breath, only to be told that we are making it up.”

That quote came from the article I linked to in previous post. 

John slept most of the day. At 4pm he perked up some snd we watched The Big Year with the kids — it’s a really fun (mostly clean) movie. The book is better. But John and I enjoyed the movie before kids. And now we enjoy it with kids. 

We started schooling today after a week off for Thanksgiving. We did everything remotely from the Kotynski family as we all hunker down in our own homes. 

Our Wwoofer Jacob appears to be getting sick. He and John spent a lot of time working together during the Thanksgiving Break so this isn’t a big surprise.

I am pretty sure Abigail has it. She’s been complaining of a sore throat for a few days and she’s crying at the drop of a hat. But she’s not feverish. No one is. Not even JB. 

My husband. He still took a few phone calls today. Trying to figure out how they will make it through this pandemic with winter and the flu not even a huge part of their vocabulary yet.

I suppose I should Blog about something else. But there isn’t much else on my mind. I am so blessed by another friend who brought things I needed today. So many prayers and phone calls and texts and encouragements. 

A sweet friend wrote these words to me today. I share it here to remember it in the days and weeks and months to come. 

God call us to to the “risky road of loving others” because that is what HE did to the point of the cross! You guys have always lived an “others-centered”live, not a “self-centered life” and I absolutely love that about you guys! Your servants hearts, your generous hearts! Don’t let this fight let you forget who you are and your calling to love the way our Lord does! I know this is easier said than done but I just wanted to encourage you!

You have fought a lot of hard battles, infertility, depression... and you have seen God’s faithfulness in mighty ways. Our God is faithful and is with you in the midst of this very hard situation! It is my prayer that He sustains you, strengths you, protects the rest of your family from COVID and fill you with his peace.

Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain." ... 1 Corinthians 15:58, NASB: "Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord."



A friend sent this article to me. This really echoed so much of what I have been feeling ... when my husband found out he was positive, there was a weird sort of "relief" ... coupled with a feeling of the inevitable. It's like he has been carrying a ruck sack of bricks on his back for months. And now the bricks are removed ... he's grateful to have it "over with" and yet he has to heal and "get back to it."
He's a lot sicker today than he was yesterday. Sicker than the day before. And I have to just wait and watch me and the kids. I pray. I do trust God. But it's super scary.
In the video on the page I linked to, the doctor said: "At some point we don't feel like heroes anymore. We feel like sacrificial lambs."
I have to admit, I struggle with those emotions. A big part of me is just ANGRY. I have to remember this is John's calling. These are God's children he is helping. I know that. But I don't always feel it. 
It is SO hard to see people make really bad choices and then bring those choices into my husband who is now laid out with COVID while we are all at home here with him and now have COVID on our doorstep.
I am overwhelmed. I feel like crying. I do cry. I'm scared. I trust God. And then I don't. While John is here, he's gotten calls about things going on in the ER and with the ambulances in the county. Things that are getting out of control. And he's at home. Sick. Will he get sicker? Or will it be mild? Will it just be him? Or will it be all of us? One by one? All at once?

John's parents are high-risk. What about them?

My faith. Do I have any faith? Where is it? Right this moment it feels complete absent. Did I lose it?
And the community just carries on. Everyone just carries on, going into Walmart and not wearing their masks because "heaven forbid anyone tell me what to do!?"
But if they get sick, they go in and see John and then say: "I didn't think it would be this bad."
WHY?! Why don't they think it'll be bad. We've told you. You won't listen. 

Give me a break.

I know this will be cycles.

I'll cycle back into trust. And faith.

Please pray for us. Pray for me. 

Right now I'm really low.

Sunday, November 29, 2020

John has COVID

Here's the note I left on Facebook yesterday to fill people in:

Well, our family put up a good fight against COVID. But my husband had a patient exposure a few days ago that lead to him testing positive today. He doesn’t get paid if he can’t work (he’s a contract employee) so we’ve been saving and preparing for him to be out of work since COVID first emerged. He will only miss four shifts which is not too bad. (Figuring he recovers well.)

We’ve decided to separate Gramps and Grama (John’s parents who live on the farm) but our Wwoofer Jacob and the kids and I are not going to stay apart as this has been a number of days already.
John is doing “okay” right now. Not great. Not terrible. Your prayers for our family are super helpful but also, please pray for the four remaining docs. They can’t afford to lose more than one doc at a time.
I’m cycling through grief stages and I’m sure I’ll continue to do so. It’s hard not to be angry with patients who are careless and then come in and put your family at risk. But this is his job, and these people are children of God even if they don’t “think this is real.” Jesus is sovereign. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever!! He is our refuge and fortress in times of trouble. Praise His name.

It was surreal to receive the phone call. John said getting the news was a huge emotional BLOW to him. After eight months of taking precautions against COVID, he had it.

Later, I'll write more. Right now, we are hunkering down at home. Yesterday, our Sidge lost his very favorite chicken, Pumpkin. She was one of our very first ones on the farm. Sidge noticed she wasn't acting right, picked her up, brought her up to the house, and watched her die in his arms.

He decided to burry her next to Scrubs. He brought the shovel. Hannah came with. I offered to help dig but he wanted to do it himself. He and Hannah both kept a feather.

That was stinky.

For now, JB doesn't feel great. There are a few kids mentioning not feeling well. One day at a time.

Friday, November 27, 2020

My COVID musings

The quote above and the included picture were taken from this article: Pictured: A doctor hugged a distraught elderly coronavirus patient on Thanksgiving, after warning the public America is headed for its "darkest days" over Christmas. 

As I write these words, my husband is upstairs, putting my children to bed. We will get to bed early -- like we always do the day before he goes back on shift. Tomorrow he will be back at his 7am to 7pm shifts in the ER.

I stumbled upon the article above, and I sat down in front of my Blog, and I found myself tearing up. My emotions are so muddled. They are weariness. They are anger. They are frustration. They are wanting to give up. They are wanting ...

What do I want?

Let me see if I can put it into words.

I'm not sure if I can explain how it feels to be my husband's wife right now. He's the most amazing man I know. He is a rock. He is a rock star. He is a hero. He is one of the finest human beings and doctors I know. He is compassionate. He is kind. Both to patients and the people he works with. I have never heard someone he works with or someone he has taken care of ever whisper a bad word against him. (Unless they were seeking drugs. Drug-seekers get mad at good doctors.)

In the beginning, I struggled to figure out to help my husband. But as the days turned into weeks and into months and are now pushing close to a year, I've realized that the way I can best help him is to make sure that every minute he is home is as rejuvenating as it can possibly be. He must properly "heal" while he is home with kids, with nature, with me, in order to be able to return to the grind ready to work again.

But here's what is so hard. I feel like everyone is tired of COVID and just wants it to be over. And so they start acting like it is over. They have their Thanksgiving feasts and do all their crazy traveling as if this pandemic doesn't exist.

Except it does!

And my husband can't do what they are doing. He can't just throw up his hands and say: "That's it. I'm done. I don't want to deal with this again."

There are only FIVE full-time Emergency Room doctors in our county of 70,000 people. He can't just not go to work. In fact, if more than one of the five is sick or unable to work at a time, they are in a major crunch. Three doctors is probably not enough to carry the load for more than a few days at a time. 

And so we work HARD to be safe. And to keep John safe. And to make good choices. 

But now, Thanksgiving hits. And everyone does their thing. And when the hospital doesn't have room, what will these people say? That the doctors should have planned better? That there should have been more space made? More nurses created? More doctors than actually exist?

It hurts my heart and makes me want to cry. And I do cry.

My husband doesn't. He puts his head up and pushes onward. Onward. The next day. One foot in front of the other. The next patient. The next sickness. He just keeps going.

And then he comes home, and he birds. He gardens. He tends to his sheep. He rests. We play games. And watch movies. And simply ... are.

But I want, so badly, for COVID to just be over. So does he.

But it's not.

So please, don't think it is. I know it’s hard. You have to weigh physical and mental health in what you choose to do. But it IS important that you keep “warring” with us. 

Please keep being smart. Don’t quit!!

Thursday, November 26, 2020

First Annual Bauernhof Kitsteiner DuoDecathalon

Our eleven-year-old, Sidge, wanted to have a FIELD DAY with our homeschool group. He planned it and organized it COMPLETELY himself. I was sooooo proud of him. Like, seriously, this was such an amazing learning experience for him. He came up with the idea, discussed things with his Dad and grandparents, and just all-around did all the work to have this fun event.

helped him get all the activities "weighted" according to age and Grampa and Grama created medals for the First Annual Bauernhof Kitsteiner DuoDecathalon. It was a gorgeous November day, and we had an amazing time with our "quarantine crew."

I cannot put into words how special the Kotynski family is to us. I truly cannot fathom what this COVID year would have been like without them alongside us on this journey. We have done everything together ... including following quarantine rules so that we could all keep on keeping on during this event.

Please CLICK HERE to see the entire album on Facebook of all the pictures from Field Day. I hope to put captions on them ... someday.

However, something EXTRA DUPER AMAZINGLY SPECIAL happened today. We have been "separated" from our friend Anni and her foster daughter since school started back because her foster daughter is in daycare, and we can't be with her due to quarantine rules. However, Anni was exposed to COVID 14-days ago. The exposure cancelled her ability to travel home to see her parents in Pennsylvania, but she and her foster daughter were completely home for 14-days which meant Thanksgiving Day their quarantine EXPIRED and they could come visit us. We have seen them each weekend, but just from a distance, so we were all ECSTATIC to be able to hug each other. I know anyone strictly quarantining will understand what these hugs were like for us:

Female Northern Harrier

Study of a hunting female Northern Harrier. All photos by my 9-year-daughter, Abigail on Thanksgiving morning. She will wait patiently for hours, literally, waiting for the perfect shot!

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

My Pastor's Sermon, COVID, Politics, and speaking up


Christian singer Nichole Nordeman comment above writing about COVID and thanking healthcare workers really spoke to me. It is SUCH a blessing when someone takes a moment to SAY what we in our home FEEL on behalf of JB. She also makes an impassioned plea after losing her aunt to COVID very quickly and unexpectedly. 

I received a message from a young friend in my local community this week. She wrote the following: 

Hi! I just wanted to let you know I was thinking about you. I appreciate that you share your perspective about covid, especially here where it is likely to receive a significant amount of backlash. I think sharing those things take a lot of courage, even though it shouldn’t have to. You are amazing. I really hope to have a heart as big as yours some day.

It's interesting that I have chosen to make some statement about COVID. Many things, I choose to sit silently on. But this is one, because my husband has a lot of "clout" on this topic. I feel is important for us to speak up on.

And so I will continue to do so. I have thought about stopping. So has John. But the comments we received from friends and family telling us they appreciate his insight, require us to keep speaking.

I recognize that EVERYONE must make their own VERY DIFFICULT and VERY CHALLENGING decisions when it comes to this virus and how to proceed in their everyday lives. I am not here to judge you on how many people you have over for Thanksgiving and what parties you do or don't attend. We have boundaries in place for our family, and we've kept them in place. I will share them if you ask, but this is NOT black or white when it comes to "do I invite so and so to our Christmas gathering." I totally get that.

However, folks, if we forget that LIVES are IMPORTANT ... what is wrong with us as human beings? I mean, how can we say: "The death rate is only 4%." That four percent has meant one-quarter of a million Americans have died. One and a half million people in the entire world have died. Some of you may argue that the number is exaggerated, but take it from my husband, it is honestly probably HIGHER than what the numbers say. However, even if it isn't, no one can deny that's a WHOLE LOT OF PEOPLE. 

However, so much of this has gotten POLITICAL and that is what I want to speak up about right now. I am a CHRISTIAN. I am NOT a Democrat or a Republican. I am a daughter of the KING of Heaven. I am a daughter of my Heavenly Father. 

My Pastor at First Christian Church Greeneville spoke this past Sunday about how our "citizenship" is in heaven. Below, I want to share a little bit of what he spoke about. I have also included the FULL video of the sermon if you want to hear it for yourself. 

Here was the part that specifically stood out to me: 

In the season that seems like this endless battle of earthly kingdoms vying for power, If you find yourself emotionally tied into those worldly kingdoms vying for powers ... perhaps it is because you're listening and you're thinking and you're speaking according to the world's categories.

1. Bearing witness to Christ as King means listening to His voice and not the kingdoms of the world. In John 10, Jesus says that his sheep hear his voice, and that he calls them by name and leads them. When this happens, there will be ONE flock. Where HE is shepherd. People who truly belong to God, they listen to and they believe the words of Jesus because HE'S their shepherd. The evil one is always seeking (John 10:10) to steal and kill and destroy but those whose lives bear witness to Christ as king overall, they listen for the voice of their shepherd. They listen for truth and goodness and beauty in the world that display that truth and goodness and beauty of the shepherd. You have to learn to listen if you are going to bear witness to Christ as King.

2. Bearing witness to Christ as King means increasingly means increasingly submitting our thinking to him as the authoritative ground and guide for all truth. When Jesus says He is King, He means it with a forcefulness and a depth that we miss because we easily give ourselves to this world's categories of meaning and purpose. (II Cor 10:3 & 5) "We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and we take every thought captive." We must submit our thinking to the truth of Christ as King. We must take every thought captive, wrestle it down, do the hard work of mentally submitting your thinking to obey Christ as Lord. If something is true, it is become God made it true as creator of all.

3. Bearing witness to the truth of Christ the King means more than silent modeling and often requires actually speaking. You can't hear what isn't spoken. "Faith comes from hearing and hearing through the Word of Christ." Go into all the world and proclaim the Gospel through all creation. 

Monday, November 23, 2020

COVID-19: Letter to his staff


John recently shared this on Facebook and so I wanted to also include it on my Blog. I want to remember this time. I want to remember what it was like. If you'd like to read on Facebook, you can do so here. But I am also including it below:

The following is a letter I wrote last week to my team in the emergency department. I have had a number of people ask if I could share it on Facebook, so here it is.
It's about 1:00 am on Wednesday night, and I'm on shift.
Things are not crazy busy right now, but the mood is just tense.
And that's how things have felt for the last few months.
When COVID first hit, it was scary and there were a lot of unknowns, but we had so much support from almost every corner.
But now we are out of the COVID novelty phase.
After elections and mask mandates and shutdowns and social media pseudoexperts, the support is still there, but it's significantly less.
We are in the slow trudge of trench warfare now... periods of scary intensity with periods of gloomy anticipation.
Yes, our volumes are trending up from our all-time low patient volumes a few months ago.
And we've all recently worked when we are just absolutely slammed.
But we are also feeling totally overwhelmed even when our daily numbers don't show it.
And that is so hard to explain to people who haven't experienced it themselves firsthand.
We are all dealing with COVID+ patients, and this waxes and wanes on the day.
We have all ran Code Airways (this is our local terminology for a cardiac or pulmonary arrest in a patient with COVID-19), we have all intubated COVID+ patients, and we evaluate COVID+ patients almost every day.
But we are also dealing with the constant lurking of COVID just around the corner with almost every patient we see.
In addition to COVID, it feels like we are seeing more very sick patients than normal.
It's hard to say if that is actually true, but that is what it feels like.
Then to make matters worse, we have fewer and fewer nurses every day, it seems.
Unfortunately, many of the nurses we are losing are some of our most experienced nurses.
I can't blame them for leaving. I understand. I get it.
The bottom line is that this year has absolutely sucked.
There is no sugar coating all the crap that we have had to deal with and continue to deal with every single day.
Our shifts are overwhelming, and our metrics don't reflect how hard things are and how hard we work.
I have no good answers or solutions for anyone.
I cannot tell you that it will not get worse before it gets better.
I cannot tell you how much longer we are going to be dealing with this.
But I will tell you that I am so thankful for each of you.
I am proud that you are on my team.
I am grateful that you have risen to the calling of caring for the people in our community in the hardest environment we have ever had to face. Yes, that sounds melodramatic. But you know that this is an accurate description of what we are living through.
Thank you for not giving up.
Thank you for not quitting, physically or emotionally.
Thank you for continuing to show up every day and working so hard.
Thank you for being on our team.
We need you. We need your presence, your help, and your daily leadership in the emergency department, now more than ever.
Please know that you are not alone.

I love this picture. I especially like to picture Jesus helping my husband hold up the bed. (And of course this is in no way a slight to all the women and nurses who are doing an amazing job too. This just makes me think about John a lot, and I like it.)

Friday, November 20, 2020

Covid hits "close to home"


We've had a number of people in our life come very close to losing their battle with COVID. But as of yet, no one we knew "up close" had passed away. Until yesterday. 

Laurie Townsend (affectionately known as "Punky" when we played basketball together at Western Kentucky University) was 11-years-old when her father died of cancer. Her mother, Jane, remarried, Bob, and for the last 27-years, he has been Laurie's step-father. He was always around during my years on "The Hill."

Bob was an outstanding step-father. He was a father to Laurie and the grandfather of her twin sons. Jane and Bob were an amazing team, and I am hearbroken for Laurie and Jane and Laurie's brother Landy and all the grandkids today. 

Here's the thing ... my husband, in the ER, he sees this so often. He sees people come in and not come out. It's sad. But as of yet, they've only been acquaintances. We almost lost Danny Lewis, his boss at the hospital. We almost lost Toni, our dear friend here in the community. We almost lost Jeremy, our neighbor in Bulls Gap. But so far, we hadn't lost them.

But Bob puts a face with this pandemic. 

It's so easy for people to say: "The death rate isn't that bad." As of today, 252,000 people in the United States have died from COVID. And while most people don't like to hear this, my husband will tell you that number is actually much higher due to how deaths are configured. But let's say it's just 250,000. That's a quarter of a million people with at least six months of this pandemic still in front of us. 

This is real folks. Take it seriously. Please. Please. Please. 

For us, it's been real from the beginning because my husband sees dead bodies. I don't know how else to say it. He pronounces people dead. He sticks tubes down throats to try to save their lives. He runs "codes" to try to bring them back. This makes it very real when he sits across the table from us at dinner. 

When people try to say: "This is a hoax," John just shakes his head because they came and took a body to the morgue from a real person who died of this disease. 

And not just COVID. People are dying from other things too ... more ... because they are waiting to come to the ER. They are sicker. Everything is "off kilter."

To the entire Smith/Townsend/Burt families .... I love you all. I am so sorry that COVID had to touch close to home to people that I love and admire so much.

COVID .... 

GO away!!!!!!

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Looking Back


I've been feeling nostalgic lately. Maybe it's being 43. Maybe it's COVID and being cooped up and missing family. Maybe it's watching my kids grow up seemingly RIGHT before my eyes. 

I am doing some scanning of photos as I attempt to go through a tub in my closet I have been meaning to go through for quite some time. This one was taken on November 8, 2008. That is what the ink on the back of the photo says anyhow. However, judging by the size of Isaac, he is very tiny here making this a picture probably from July of 2008. 

I remember this visit from my Dad. I remember that he was trying to make me eat something, and I could NOT eat. Now, of course, I know that I could not eat because I was pregnant with Elijah "Sidge" and experiencing morning sickness with that pregnancy. (I had no idea I was pregnant at that time.) I specifically remember my father bringing me an egg and cheese sandwich and setting it on the computer desk, and I looked at it and thought: "I cannot eat that." (I have a feeling John probably left for the day and said: "Please try and make her eat something.")

I also love this picture because my Dad really loved Scrubs. Scrubs was such a handful. I mean he was a holy terror. But he was my first "kid" and my parents let him hang out with me at their house even though he was truly worse than a child. My Dad will still send me a text now and then with a Scrubs' memory, and truthfully, I think my parents took his loss nearly as hard as I did.

I have a vivid memory of Scrubs snagging my Dad's expensive new glasses in his jowls when he was about a year old. He perched himself on one side of the dining room table. I was on the other. And just like that famous scene from Marley & Me (which incidentally was a WAY better book than it was movie), I was trying to get Scrubs to Pa-leeeese drop the glasses. (He didn't before he put a big gouge in them that ruined the glasses.)

Here's that scene if you don't know what I am talking about:

Friday Funnies: Grown-up Raptor Style

 As the kids get older, our Friday Funnies become things I have to be careful sharing. They don't want "their stuff" put out there for everyone all willy-nilly.

But this is a good one.

Yesterday I rolled over as the sun was seeping in through my window to see that John had already woken up. He was on his phone and there was a picture of a girl on his screen.

I playfully said: "Who's the girl, John?"

He smiled coyly and said: "She's a Raptor scientist."

He was, of course, dead serious. She was some bird specialist he was reading an article about. But for some reason, this struck me as hilariously funny. Funny because this is the extent of his "cheating." Bird women. 

I caught the giggles. I started laughing so hard. 

I forgot that Abigail was sleeping on a mat at the foot of our bed. (That's a long story for another post.) Suddenly her little blonde head peeps up and she sleepily says: "What's so funny Mama?"

I tried not to repeat the story because I knew she wouldn't get it whatsoever, but I finally just said "Dad had a picture of a Raptor scientist on his phone."

Of course, Abigail loves birds. Is very, very preoccupied with them. Wants to be an ornitholigst but wants to make sure that she doesn't end up overseeing researchers. "I only want to do if I can be a researcher myself and actually be with the birds," she has said often.

So she scrunched up her nose and said: "What is funny about a raptor scientist?"

This made me laugh even harder.

"Seriously Mom," she said. "Why are you laughing?"

I just couldn't even attempt to explain my life living with all these nature-loving people ...

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

The headache and the swimming in a fog

I've been battling chronic migraines for about two months. 

I started a new medicine (Topomax) which has stopped the migraines but left me feeling ... awful

I can't even describe this new feeling. It's like there's a pile of bricks on my back. Like I'm swimming underwater. Like I'm in a brain fog. Exhausted. Can't catch my breath. Just ... yuck. Sleep is the only thing that helps me during this time.

It's wonderful to have a community around you. Grama has been helping me do meals and giving me an opportunity to rest. My cousin-in-law Hannah has carried most of a homeschooling load. My husband, who is already just slammed right now, just picks up more at home without complaining. 

We attended church for the second Sunday in a row. So good to be back. My friend Kelley pulled me aside and prayed for me. I've had so many friends supporting and encouraging me. I hate being needy, but I just ... am, right now. I'm not myself. Between the headaches and now feeling like a zombie, I'm just not myself.

I'm hopeful that weening down from this medicine I can get mostly off of it without having the headaches coming back. 

We will see.

If I think about it long enough, I feel sorry for myself. Since my teens, my female body hasn't worked right. In the beginning, it didn't really matter. But once I wanted to have children, it mattered greatly. I couldn't have kids. It took years and tens of thousands of dollars. Then I had kids and I had so many complications and illnesses and sicknesses. Then I had post-partum depression. And now here I am on the other side of it all and I am still battling the darn female side of my body.

It is what it is. I'll get through it. But it's hard. I feel that my husband needs me to be strong at home for him right now.

And I'm just a hot mess.

Sunday, November 15, 2020

The Goose and the Covid

Sometimes things on the farm go exactly like you hope they should. So good in fact that they actually surprise you. This is exactly what we hoped will happen. 

The plan: Arabelle will drive the goose back into the enclosure. Simply. Purely. Easily. 

Of course, this is rarely how things go. So much so that you can hear on the video the surprise in my voice when things go ... 

exactly like we hope they will.


I suppose LIFE is a lot like a farm. We have the way we hope things will go. We pray that they will go this way.

But it is life. 

And life rarely follows the plan.

Last night I had a talk with JB about COVID, and I asked him the question that I've put off asking him. 

"What," I began, "Is your greatest fear?"

He paused a minute and said, "I most worry that because we are so busy, I overlook something I normally wouldn't overlook. That we don't get to something we normally would easily get to. That I miss something and someone dies that shouldn't die."

Our family feels SO carried by prayer right now. So if you can pray for anything right now would you pray for the Lord's miraculous wisdom to be bestowed upon my husband? When he is in the Emergency Room, he is the only physician there. He is the TOP person in the "room." The "buck" stops with him. If something gets missed, in the end, it is "his fault."

My fear with COVID, in my mind, is really big. The fear is that patients won't get to John in time. That they will die waiting in the parking lot, the ambulance, the waiting room. I hear the stories of the psych patients that must be held there for 14 days. Patients that are threatening to try and give them COVID. Patients in the waiting room who are mad that they aren't being seen and threatening physical force. But these things are not actually what concern John the most.

think those fears, while possible and real, aren't the more "tangible" fears right now. For John, the fear right now is that he is ONLY ONE PERSON. And that the one person is a human being. And that human being is supposed to be able to pitch a perfect game every single night. 

Most nights, John actually pitches that perfect game. But COVID is making the likelihood of that more and more impossible. Less space. Less nurses. Less beds. Slower transfers. Sicker patients. Longer lines. Bigger burnout. Psych patients with nowhere to be transferred to. Nursing home patients.

These fears are real. 

My husband is truly the STRONGEST man I know. He is the SMARTEST man I know. Your prayers are SUSTAINING us. Will you commit him to prayer over the next weeks and months? Pray for all healthcare workers, but specifically, pray for my John and the doctors and nurses he works for. The nurses he works with are quitting rapidly. They don't get paid enough to deal with this stress. I cannot blame them. His fellow doctors are getting crabby and weary. There are only five full-time doctors that work there. Losing one (and heaven forbid two) would cause the system to completely fall apart.

Some days, everything goes exactly like it should.

And some days, COVID enters the picture. 

But either way, Christ is present.

And prayer is real.

Saturday, November 14, 2020

"No one is listening to us"

I had an old friend, link to an online article. While the end got into some political stuff I don't necessarily agree with, there were some pieces that really resonated with me during this COVID battle.

Folks, these feelings are not exagerrated. My husband doesn't work in an ICU so he doesn't see quite as many deaths. His job is to get patients stabilized and into the ICU. But he is seeing things right now. He is seeing things that are really bad. 

Last night he climbed into bed. I started asking him questions about work, and he just said: "Wendi, I can't talk about it. I just can't. I can't say anymore. I'm so tired of sickness and COVID. I just need to go to sleep."

My husband is strong. He'll be okay. But not all doctors and nurses are. This is a BIG deal. And it isn't going away any time soon.

Friday, November 13, 2020

COVID Ballet

Abigail and her cousins: Ana and Kari (Car-ee) put together a time-lapsed video of one of their ballet lessons on zoom. Ana put it to music. The three girls take lessons with both the ballet's director, LoriAnn, and one of the recently graduated seniors, Elizabeth, two days a week.  Here is the video:


They have also started doing some private lessons in the studio with just their cousins and their teacher. Hannah has jumped in with them sometimes. Here are some videos of them doing ballet. Mannn am I tired of Covid and ready for "real" life to get started again. 


This pandemic has dominated our life for months now. Someday I'll look back and this will seem like a BLIP. But right now, the BLIP is a really big BLIP. 

John and I have gone back and forth between silence on social media to speaking up. We try to find the middle ground between staying healthy and making sure that people understand what is REALLY going on. Not just what the media SAYS is going on. 

Years from now ... decades from now ... I wonder what they will say. How this will be framed. Right now, everyone wants to make this about an election. But this is a world-wide problem. How self-centered we are as Americans to think that the world revolves around us!

This is a pandemic. Sure the media blows things out of proportion. But to be honest: I don't watch the news. And I try to pay very little attention to those outside noises.

I wanted to provide some links, for posterity's sake, to posts John has shared about this virus. Here they are:

Thursday, November 12, 2020

Farming is for the birds

A coyote took out nearly all of our ducks earlier this year. We had one female duck survive and one male. There was a clutch of eggs in the grass that we decided to incubate. Out of 14 eggs, 3 hatched. We raised those little duckies hoping to grow our flock (which is actually called a “raft” when talking about ducks) back. 

It is official. All three of those little duckies are boys (or a “drake” in official lingo.) This is only obvious when they mature and look beautiful (a boy) or plain (a girl)! 

If you know anything about ducks, this isn’t good. All three boys will have to be processed as that many males will kill the female. Male to female percentages are very important with ducks. 

Some days farming is for the birds .... 

Pun intended. 

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Veteran's Day


This is my veteran. 

Today we celebrate our veterans. 

My husband is now a veteran working in the public health sector as a physician. 

Yesterday he came home from work and told me that in almost fifteen years of medicine, he had never had a day like that one. I asked what it was that set it apart. He said: "Just the number of very sick people," he told me. 

He said that he had three codes (where you try to "bring someone back"). One had to be run in the ambulance because there wasn't a room in the hospital. He lost two of these patients. He had to tell the family. One was a wife not expecting to lose her husband. She clung to him. 

How does he do this? 

And even more so, how does he do it day after day. How does he laugh and smile and encourage parents their child is okay and then go in and watch someone leave the Earth forever. 

When he came home, we had an argument over dog slobber. I kid you not. How do you have a fight with someone over dog slobber after they've just had to tell two families that their loved one will never be with them again. 

This picture above of John briefing a group when he worked in the military sticks out to me because of the woman's head peeking out to his left.

Her name was Cheryl. When I was in Germany preparing to have Abigail, she went swimming in a Turkish ocean. Her children were swept into a riptide. She managed to save their lives only to be swept away herself. By the time she was rescued, her brain had died. John went and saw her as she was shipped to Germany to be removed from life support since Turkey didn't allow that procedure. 

I think of Cheryl.

I think of the young man my husband declared dead after an accident on the flight line in a tank. 

I think of the airman who chose suicide over the PTSD that was eating them alive and the doctor that had to declare their body deceased. 

I think of all the people John has helped and yet I can't help thinking: "How does he go back and do this over and over again?"

And then I cannot help but thinking that people in our communities are arguing about masks and whether they should have to wear them. They choose to put themselves in crowds despite repeated warnings that we need to be socially distant. 

How incredibly selfish.

In the beginning, when this virus first unfurled itself on our world, my husband found incredible support among the community. We still see and receive great encouragement, but we also see people simply refusing to do their part. They have their reasons but most involve sheer selfishness or complete ignorance. 

While you refuse to wear a mask because you don't want someone to tell you what to do, my husband will go into work and gown up and down over and over and over again. He will pronounce people dead. He will save people's lives. He will tell families that their loved one is never coming back again. He will risk himself and our family and bringing COVID home on behalf of your ignorance and decisions to not take proper precautions. 

He did it as a veteran.

He does it as a civilian. 

The greatest gift you could give MY veteran is to help in this battle against COVID. Fight with him.


Monday, November 09, 2020

Church in the Kotynski Home

This past week, we decided as a family to return to church for the first time since COVID first hit us back in March.

Up until recently, we've been avoiding any indoor activities. Our decision to attend church was one born out of numerous feelings.

1. We miss our church body!

2. Our church is doing a fantastic job with social distancing!

3. We really think church is about as safe as Walmart right now.

4. This has been going on a LONG time, and we really feel the need to choose some small things to help our life return to a little bit of "normal."

I did want to share a brief video of what our home church with the Kotynskis has looked like during COVID. We didn't do this every week. But many weeks we all gathered together in their home for church time:

Thank you for the thank you's

I had to run some of the Kotysnski children home late last week around 5pm. On my way home, I emerged on this scene ...

My husband, fully-decked out in his scrubs for work pushing our youngest daughter on the swing before he left for a night shift.

I want to always remember these moments. John's job has been truly challenging. Overwhelming. He's ended up in administration which was never what we guessed he would be doing. Never what we wanted him to do. So many issues with a merger that occurred before COVID hit. So many issues with COVID in our community. So many issues working in a rural Emergency Room right now. So many issues in our world that are affecting us at a local level. 

The flu season is emerging.

Covid is picking up.

John is balancing so many things. And he's doing it amazingly well. He puts the kids to bed and calls to check on things and runs our farm and supports his headache-ridden wife with such amazing strength. Early on in this COVID-battle he had a few days that he really got overrun. But ever since then, it as if he is being carried by the prayers and encouragement of all of you.

He has SUPER HUMAN strength.

THANK YOU to those of you who have sent gifts, texted, sent a card, or just stopped me in person and said thank you. I don't really feel that I am doing anything, but just being recognized ... just people telling our family that we are important to the community means SO much especially right now.

If you know a teacher, a pastor, a doc, a paramedic, a nurse ... take a moment to tell them thank you right now. Everyone is weary. 

Your small gestures MEAN THE WORLD!

These families who are fighting so hard are actually being majorly supported by your small actions. They need you. We need you.

Thank you from the bottom of our hearts,

John & Wendi

Sunday, November 08, 2020

A life update

Life here has been moving on quite normally.

A few notes:

  1. Arabelle and Ritter have mated, earlier than expected. This means puppies due in early January. Less-than-ideal when that is the coldest month of the year. This will be the last litter for Arabelle (her fourth). We will get her fixed after this litter and allow little Raven to take up the helm. I always forget how completely annoying both the big dogs are during this time. Ritter is constantly whining, wanting to be with Arabelle. But then they get in these horrible arguments. It's very love/hate. I truly don't understand how it works in animals. 
  2. We have loosened our COVID-19 reins just a little bit in the last few weeks. This is mostly, honestly due to the length of time things have gone on and the holidays rapidly approaching. It's been a very long time since John's parents have been able to see any of their other children, and like most of the world, at some point, your mental health must be weighed against your physical health. We returned to church this Sunday for the first time in six months. Mannnn was it good to be back! John and I also went and saw our friend, Elizabeth Sparks, perform in a local production of Macbeth. (She was Lady Macbeth, and she was outstanding!) Both church and the theater did a fantastic job of social distancing, and we felt very comfortable. This is such a weird time in our lives, and I truly hope we never face another pandemic as long as we live.
  3. Work continues to be challenging for JB. With flu season approaching and COVID-19 ramping up in our area, there is great concern for their hospital to be able to handle things especially because there have been some higher-up decision made that are affecting the number of nurses they are currently employing. John continues to chug away. He works with some great people. His Co-Director in the ER is outstanding, but ER medicine is not a fantastic model of medicine, and time will tell whether John can continue to do it the rest of his career. He always has the option to return to private practice. Oh do people around these parts wish he would do that. We won't be making a change anytime soon, but we will see. I know we don't want to do another pandemic in the Emergency Room. 
  4. Homeschooling is going SO well this year. I continue to homeschool our family, the Kotynski family, and our friend Katy, a ballet prodigy who is homeschooling to create more time for her to work on her ballet. Of course, I'm not doing this by myself in any stretch of the word. Hannah Kotynski is amazing as my teammate. Grama K. has been able to help a ton mostly because COVID-19 has prevented them traveling as much as they did in years' past. Uncle Eddie is teaching Math and Science to his two older kids as well. One day at a time, but I am absolutely loving the new Sunlight Curriculum and am challenging myself with a new Birding curriculum for Abigail who is obsessed with her avian friends. 
  5. We are excited that Joni will be visiting us for her annual pre-Christmas and that my parents and brother and his family will be spending the actual Christmas holiday here. We will have to loosen our quarantine a bit, but we truly feel that having the opportunity to be with our family is incredibly valuable during this time. John also has both holidays off which is equally wonderful. 
  6. I have been battling chronic migraines. They are hormonally related, and I have been working with my family doctor, John, my OBGYN, and am even getting my eyes checked this week to see if we can get to the bottom of these things. If I let myself, I feel very frustrated. The female part of my body has always been a problem ... from PCOS to infertility to pregnancy complications and delivery issues ... I just want it to all be over. But alas ... other people have bigger fish to fry, so we carry on.
  7. We have just finished an election in these parts, and it appears Joe Biden will be the next President of the USA. (There is some mandatory recounts that must occur due to how close the voting was in some states.) This has been an incredibly tumultuous time in our nation's history, and I truly believe that sin is at the root of many of these problems. I pray that our country can find a common ground, but I truly believe that Jesus Christ is getting closer and closer to coming back and that some of the depravity will not go away. John posted this picture on his Facebook wall the other day, and it really resonated with me. I have included it at the top of this post. 
  8. Life has never been easy. There have been wars and pestilence and rumors of war for generations. I just want the future to be okay for my children. There are no easy answers. The Democrats want it one way. The Republicans another. They both think they completely have the right idea. And truly, I believe the answer lies somewhere in the middle where only God knows. I pray for our country. I pray for my children. And I will continue to love. I believe Social Media is at the very CORE of these divisions in our country, and my presence there will be less and less in the upcoming days .... Life is hard sometimes. But GOD IS ON THE THRONE! My Jesus lives. And HE IS MY ultimate President! I will respect whoever holds offices of leadership in our country, but I will serve my Jesus.