I don't want to write about coronavirus. Surely there is more to write about? But it's really hard when the world is consumed by what's happening around us.
There is heartbreak and grief in many households, and a tsunami of anxiety and depression across the country.
Many say this disease doesn't discriminate, but it does. The most vulnerable are struggling and for many, isolating is a luxury they can't afford.
In what I'm about to write, I don't want to belittle those struggles. I want to acknowledge them and say: "Yes, this is hard for so many and my heart and prayers go out to them."
I and my hubby are classed as vulnerable, which brings its own problems due to isolation, including trying to source groceries. But these problems are small compared to those faced by many others. We're thankful we have family and many friends.
Being disabled also brings extra complications, especially the absence of therapies that help with pain levels. But at least I can get the pain medications I need.
I like to have 'all my ducks in a row', but in this crisis I find there is no row and the ducks have escaped! Yes I have a plan, and I'm still working just as hard, but like many people, the adrenaline has now ceased. For me that means being more irritable (pray for my poor husband!) and more weary.
Everything is now online, which is a nightmare for my vision issues, although I'm loving and thankful for online church! Zoom meetings are an exhausting screen crammed with faces I can't see very well, meaning I'm finding it more tiring than sitting in a boardroom in London with 30 other colleagues.
And, like many of us, I'm finding those niggling moments of complaining slipping in more frequently. I'm normally the person who smiles a lot, tries not to complain and is usually very gentle. But now, the things I would normally let pass me by are irritating me. I'm not blazing mad or angry, just 'irked' by things. In fact, irked is fast becoming my new favourite word. It describes my state of mind perfectly.
But I have a weapon that can reset the soul and rebalance my way of thinking. And, if I'm honest, I'm not using it very well.
What is my weapon? It's simple really. It's being grateful; being thankful. Doing it purposefully from my heart and making it a daily habit. But I've found that being mindful about it is difficult at the moment.
The picture on my computer's desktop is a quote from Ann Voskamp that reads: "There is always, always something to be thankful for."
And there is.
For the last few weeks I've been putting together a creative prayer resource for families on thankfulness. This is to try and help families form the holy habit of being grateful and thanking God.
When preparing this sort of resource I tend to use the NIrV Bible, as its short sentences make it more accessible for children and people with additional needs. One of the verses I've used is Colossians 4.2: 'Give a lot of time and effort to prayer. Always be watchful and thankful.' Paul doesn't leave us much room for questioning in that statement!
As I was setting up the photos for the instructions on praying with Scrabble, Lego, bubbles and Plasticine, I noticed I was starting to spell and build things I was thankful for... probably not what some families would be saying!
In those moments of preparation, my overtired mind started to clear, and by the time I was ready to take photos, I was smiling.
I try to make a point of finding things to be thankful for each day, but I now need to be more intentionally mindful in the way I do it. My old friend "Irkfulness" keeps getting in the way!
However, I can't say "I'm thankful, BUT..." You're either thankful or you're not.
So following Pauls's instructions, I'm going to give extra time and effort to prayer, and within that be watchful and thankful.
Today I'm thankful for the small things – being able to buy bananas, seeing rare butterflies in the garden, and the sound of a blackbird singing.
I'm also grateful for a God and a hubby that still love me, even when I'm irked.
What are you thankful for today? Join me by mindfully writing down two or three things a day, and making it a habit.