Grounded Podcast

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One Year Later: Reflecting on Trials and Joy, with Amy Harris

As we look back over the last year, God’s faithfulness remains evident in the midst of the heartaches and difficulties. In this episode, our Grounded hosts reflect on the state of our world as the pandemic began, acknowledge the struggles of the last twelve months, and celebrate God’s goodness. Teacher Amy Harris shares insight about the year and how educators have risen up to embrace the challenges. On this anniversary of Grounded, may your heart be encouraged as you see all the ways God has been working.

If you would like to support Grounded and the ministry of Revive Our Hearts, you can donate here.

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Dannah Gresh: As New York awakens this morning to mark one year since its first COVID death. I wonder, Where were you the first time you heard the word Coronavirus? Yeah, there's no single epiphany that jolted our world into concerted emergency mode. Maybe like me you were in a foreign country and being ushered home early. Or perhaps you're a medical worker who received an email with new protocols and extra hours. Maybe you were just having your morning cereal as you took in the unbelievable news, but suddenly, you knew the world is changing. 

Erin Davis: Welcome to Grounded. This is a videocast and a podcast from Revive Our Hearts. We record it live every Monday morning and it was on this exact date—365 days ago—that I got this three-page letter from my kids’ school announcing something that had been unthinkable to me before. The school was closing and nobody knew really why except we knew about the Coronavirus and nobody knew for how long. 

I'm going to read just a couple of lines from that, that in hindsight just feels a little unbelievable to me. This one says, “Although our area counties have no known COVID cases . . .” One year ago, the county I live in had zero cases that certainly is not true today. They would have made the decision to close and then there's this paragraph that still kind of puts a lump in my throat. “During this time. No students will report to school buildings, no extracurricular activities, practices, or competitions will take place.” 

I remember getting a letter. I remember talking about it with my sons. I remember the uncertainty and the fear of one year ago. 

Dannah: Erin I on this day one year ago, I was on a plane from Mexico with much of the Revive Our Hearts team as we had just finished Mujer Verdadera. My husband Bob had just returned from touring with his boys team ministering to men, fathers, and sons in California, Oregon, and Washington states.

Erin: The first hotspots.

Dannah: The first hotspots. He actually jokingly said, “I think I've been on the Coronavirus tour.” Because he would travel up the coast and that next city would light up with news that this wasn't a safe place to be.

Of course, doesn’t that feel like such a long time ago? 

Erin: It does. Yesterday, my husband said, “Well, it's the one-year anniversary of ‘15 days to flatten the curve.’” And I thought, Oh, I haven't thought about flatten the curve in a while. And we've been flattening that curve for quite a long time.

Dannah: Yeah, 15 days at a time over and over again. 

Erin: That's right. 

Dannah: Just yesterday, it feels I don't know what I'm trying to say here, let me try to get it out. It feels like a long time ago. It feels like just yesterday. My whole time continuum is just messed up.

Here are the headlines from this week. One year ago, Erin,”Washington State Orders Restaurants and Bars to Close over Coronavirus.” 

Of course, Washington was one of the first states to close, not the last. My man, of course, had just come from there. Twelve months later, many states are still experiencing COVID restrictions. 

Erin: Yeah, I remember restaurants closing being a real source of anxiety for us and wondering how long it would be. Where I live, there's still some restaurants closed. This week, the headlines also said this number of confirmed “Coronavirus Virus Cases in the United States Passes 14,000.” Now 14,000 is a big number. 

Dannah: It seemed huge.

Erin: It seemed like a big number at the time. 

Dannah: Wow, Yeah.

Erin: By comparison, it's pretty small. And this time one year ago, the global number of confirmed cases was about half a million. We've got a map that shows the global COVID cases one year ago. 

Dannah: I remember seeing that and thinking, Oh no, that's terrible. 

Erin: Right. That's a lot of cases. Right? Well, let's do some comparison. What could have happened in a year? Today, the United States number is not 14,000. The United States number is 29.2 million confirmed coronavirus cases. It’s a number I can't even really comprehend.

Dannah: Right.

Erin: And where a year ago was half a million total cases worldwide, today, one year later, over half a million deaths here in the United States alone. And the number of global COVID cases is over 117 million and this warrants us sitting in it for a minute 2.6 million COVID deaths worldwide. 

Dannah: So sad.

Erin: One year later. This is what the map looks like one year later. The world is truly covered in the grief and the sorrow of the Coronavirus. 

Dannah: Truly Erin Davis it truly is. You know, during that pandemic, Bob and I had to begin making trips to Philadelphia, a city near us. I couldn't believe how chilling it was to see a city sleeping. 

The hustling bustling streets quieted; the billboards frozen in time. The first visit we made was in July. I remember walking past one of those great big billboards right by the bus station, you know, in acrylic cases. It said, “Kindergarten Open House, March 15.” And frozen in time here in July, Philadelphia, like many cities, was sleeping. And that's one of the reflections I have as I think back. 

Today's episode is actually for us to reflect on this past year to acknowledge the heartache and the loss and how difficult it can be to untangle our emotions. Because every single one of us went through this together. 

Erin: We sure did. And today's episode is also a celebration. You know, God has been faithful.

Dannah: Amen.

Erin: Every moment of the past 12 months. I think about this often. If 18 months ago, someone would have sat me down and said, these are the things you're going to go through personally, Erin. And these are the things the world's gonna go through, I would have thought, we can't, we can't do it. I can't walk through that door. But we have, and the Lord's been faithful. 

So we do want to set aside some time this morning or whenever you're watching or listening to this to testify to the goodness of God. He has been good to me. I know He has been good to you, and we want to give you opportunities to share about His faithfulness. 

Dannah: Yeah. I love that. You say it's a celebration too, because this past week, Bob and I were in Philadelphia. We saw this city emerging. I mean, even last August when our particular county was looking pretty normal, when you would drive around Philadelphia it was so asleep. And yet this past week, we drove by a children's playground and there were children playing on it. 

They had masks on, of course, but they were there. There was a martial arts group class of children in the same park doing their little moves. I said to Bob, “I feel like singing. I feel like celebrating. Something good is happening; people are coming out into the world.” And it's good to see; it's worth celebrating.

Of course, at the same time, I have to say the fight’s not over. We have not finished this thing. We've not crossed the COVID finish line. Just this morning, three quarters of the citizens in Italy were ordered into lockdown again after last week brought a 15% increase in cases. 

We're going to hear from a teacher still serving on the frontlines and learn how she is being impacted and other teachers are being impacted as we continue in this fight. 

It's also a way for us to say “thank you” for all those frontline workers who are still out there doing what they've been doing all year long. 

Erin: Yeah, we need to say “thank you.” You know what everyone? I can't say that about every episode of Grounded, but I can't say it about this one. Everyone in your phone contact list, everybody you've ever sent an email to, every neighbor, everyone has walked through this difficult year. That means everyone you know needs a dose of hope and perspective that this episode was created to deliver. 

So, will you help us spread the word to those people? You can hit the share button, it's that easy. Let people know that Grounded is happening live now. Or if you haven't already, I hope you have, you could subscribe to the Grounded podcast and share that with other people to spread the word that Grounded is on. One year later, we're here handing out some hope. 

Dannah: Yeah, we sure are. Of course, we want to hear from our new Grounded co-hosts. They weren't with us one year ago. But they've been with us through this Grounded new version. Portia, Alejandra, how as you reflect on this difficult year, have your lives changed?

Alejandra Slemin: I'm so glad I'm on Grounded. And yes, it definitely has been a difficult year. Like you mentioned earlier. Both of us were in Mujer Verdadera ’20 alongside with 6,000 women there, and the world was changing while we were in there. And in only three days we came back, I came back to Canada and many to the U.S. and to their different countries. And the world was very different than what we had left. It was a difficult time for sure. 

Dannah: Yeah. What about you, Portia? 

Portia Collins: I think for me, one of the most difficult parts has been not being able to gather with friends and family particularly at church. I remember reading this weekend an article from Megan Hill with the Gospel Coalition. She was just basically talking about how many of us have taken for granted just even small talk—the sidebar chatter that you have with keeping up with your family and the friends at church. I missed that; I missed out on so much. We're still not back in church it. So that's been a huge adjustment. 

Dannah: Yeah. 

Erin: Well, the Davis's have been back in church just a couple of weeks. It was like I was a little shriveled up, dry plant. I went to church and all of a sudden, I had all this water poured on me. And that's exactly what it was Portia. It was talking to my friend on my way to sit down or on the way out, and taking communion together. I've missed that too, so much. 

Well, one thing we've learned this year, is that even when the news is really, really bad, even when it's really, really, really bad, God is really, really good. So, let's have some good news this morning. 

Dannah: Well, one of the places the COVID battle has been impacted, been impacting life significantly has of course been schools. Teachers have had to navigate lockdowns, quarantines, virtual learning, something they probably had never thought of before. Most schools are now fully open or using a hybrid model but challenges remain. 

With us this morning is Amy Harris. She's a great friend of mine, a special friend of mine. She's our special guest, Good News Correspondent. She's a teacher at the school my husband Bob started, Grace Prep. It's in State College, Pennsylvania. She's also one of our most faithful Grounded viewers. Hello, Amy. Good morning. 

Amy Harris: Good morning. How are you guys? 

Dannah: I like to tell people that you are one of our biggest Grounded fans. 

Amy: I am. I was so excited when you said that you were going to be doing a podcast every day. As a teacher who likes that routine, I was so excited to get that hope and perspective every day. It was just fun. I felt like I was almost like on a small little women's retreat. 

Dannah: Yay, I love that. 

Alejandra: That is sweet Amy for sure. It's good to have you on this side now, talking to all Grounded friends that are watching us. But Amy, you were a COVID survivor. You got the virus early on in the pandemic, what was that like? 

Amy: So, it was really, honestly, like, I didn't think I had it because it was so new. I traveled for spring break and just started having some congestion and things like that. I thought I was having a panic attack, honestly, because I was like, what is wrong with me? I had a fever for a few days and things like that. I kind of brushed it off and just thought, What is this? 

And so, I did quarantine because it was so new. I did the quarantine thing and kind of stayed in my room. I did have two nights where I struggled with breathing. And thankfully, I was prescribed an inhaler with steroids. That really helped me make a turn. Ironically, I still taught online the whole time.

Dannah: That is what teachers do. They make it through; they make it happen. Teachers, they're the closest thing to moms. All right, help us see this pandemic through a teacher's eyes. What's it been like for you as an educator, Amy? 

Amy: I think the hardest thing was just from being in the classroom with the students that we love, we want to see them. We look forward to seeing our students and being with them. You can see so many things by body language and just being in their presence. And then all of a sudden, you have to teach online, and you've never taught online. I mean, I was like, what? Like not only I'm not going to be with the students, which that's why I'm a teacher, I'm gonna be alone in my room. And I have to learn how to do all of these things. It was super overwhelming. Like, I was just like, “How is this gonna happen?” 

Dannah: The number one thing I've heard from teachers is just what you said is that it was hard to be separated from the students, that empathic heart that teaching heart desires to be with the kids. Well, Amy, you are the Good News Correspondent today. So, do you have any stories of teachers who were creative as they were helping students through this?

Amy: Yes, I know you've heard stories. I've heard so many stories. This is a unique story. I don't know if you've heard about a librarian. My sister is a school librarian in a public school in Dayton, Ohio. She took time to record herself singing songs, reading the books, like, when you would go to the library for the librarian to read to you. She would record herself reading these books. And then she would pick out a song out of a hat and she would sing, you know, the “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star,” and I was so touched. I was so proud of her. My daughter who's ten loved it. She was emailing them to us. She would even would dress up match the character.

Dannah: I love that there's . . . what's his name? Olaf, there’s Olaf.

Amy: Olaf. She would do the voices. I mean, I was so proud of my sister, Melissa. My nephew also is a preschool teacher there. They would record together for the students. So, it's like they had the librarian; they had a preschool teacher, and they were sending these emails to families regularly for the students to see them. 

Alejandra: Wow. There is service; there is passion; there is creativity. These are our frontline workers that are out there. Amy, what are the challenges that lie ahead for teachers? I mean, even as schools return, what do you think are the challenges that teachers might face? 

Amy: I think, honestly, just the feeling of exhaustion and just the endurance to finish the rest of this year. For those people that have been teaching, and then they have to be quarantined, or it's kind of back-and-forth roller coaster . . . I have friends out in Oregon who have completely been online the whole time. They're exhausted and emotionally just drained. I think that is a challenge. Whatever the world looks like next year, it's just so unpredictable, and teachers are planners. And this is really, really hard to have that unknown. 

Dannah: Yeah. Well, we're praying for you, Amy. We're praying for the other teachers out there. In fact, we just want to take this moment with Amy as our stand in to say “thank you” to you, Amy and all the frontline workers.

You have been so faithful, the doctors, the nurses, the pastors, the grocery store clerks. I feel like they haven't been acknowledged as the frontline workers that they are, and of course, the teachers and librarians. Thanks for reminding us of them. 

As I'm thinking this morning, I'm praying that the Lord would give you strength, that He would be your strength in this time of weakness, and that you would rise up on wings like eagles. You know, I just asked that when you were talking about making it through. That's the verse that came to my heart, my mind. (I'm terrible at references.) But that's what I'm going to be praying over you and all the frontline workers today.

Thank you, Amy, for doing such a good job on the front lines. 

Amy: Thank you guys, thank you for doing this faithfully, it's been a joy.

Dannah: Friends, if you know a teacher, a pastor, a grocery store worker, a doctor, a nurse, and you do use the engagement right now chat it up in Facebook on YouTube. Let them know you're grateful for them. Say thank you to a frontline worker. Tag them in this episode. That can be your way of saying “thank you.” 

Maybe you'll take time this week to do something specifically to acknowledge their hard work and sacrifice. They have certainly earned our gratitude.

Erin: They have earned our gratitude and our prayers. Keep praying for them. One year later, they still need it. 

Well, several weeks ago, the New York Times posted this headline, “The Primal Scream: America's Mothers Are in Crisis.” And I gotta say, I just read the headline, and I started tearing up, because I've lived it. 

Here's something you may or may not know, almost a million mothers left the workforce this year, because that was required to take care of our kids who are schooling at home. More than three quarters of parents report that the uncertainty of this year has led to a dramatic spike in our stress level. 

And two sentences from that New York Times article give voice to my own pandemic experience. This is what they say, “The pandemic has touched every group of Americans and millions are suffering. Hungry and grieving, many mothers in particular get no space or time to recover.”

Here on Grounded, we believe the Bible and the Bible says that children are a blessing. And the Bible celebrates motherhood as valuable kingdom work, and we do here on Grounded, as well. But I don't want to celebrate, acknowledge this one year later episode without saying that this has been a year of mothering on shaky ground. Three of us three of us Grounded hosts have children under age 13 at home. 

Portia, you've transitioned from full-time work outside the home to work inside the home with a toddler at home this year. So, you represent those million mothers who left the workforce. I want to know, what have been your biggest challenges? First of all, as we can see it and Grounded is on, and so is Emmy. 

Portia: At the onset of the pandemic, we made the decision to take Emmy out of daycare. And she has not been back since it's been me and her every day.

In September, I made the decision to stop working full-time outside the home. And at the time, I didn't know what I was gonna do. Revive Our Hearts was a blessing. Because I literally remember talking to Nancy about it. I was like, “I don't know what's next. But this is the move that I've got to make.”

I think one of the hardest things with this entire transition has been not even for me. I think it's seeing her as a mama. She's an only child. Daycare and church were the main places where she could gather and play with other children. And she's really missed that. Mommy and Daddy have done our best. We've done enough dance parties and all kinds of fun stuff. We've done our best, but it's hard to feel that gap of her playing like with other children. She doesn't really understand because she's so young. 

I remember at one point really early in the pandemic, a friend had come by. Their children were with her in the car and Emmy wanted to play, and we couldn't let them play together. Like everybody had to stay separated. She just bawled her eyes out. It's just super hard trying to navigate these things with your kids, you know. 

Erin: It is. My sons have missed their friends terribly. I totally understand that Alejandra, pre-pandemic, you were already homeschooling your children. You're a mama of four. And man, homeschool moms became the hero.

Alejandra: Yes, we did. 

Erin: All us who became homeschool moms wanted to learn from you. But even though you were already homeschooling, that doesn't mean you didn't have to face some pretty dramatic challenges. So for you and the other mamas, could you just give voice to some of the heartaches of this year? 

Alejandra: Well, it did. It was hard. I mean, I was used to being home with my four kids. We already had our routine. But just feeling the suffering that was out there definitely brought a different element. 

The fact that we couldn't gather with friends, I mean, homeschoolers do interact with other people. So the fact that we couldn't go to those communities or to those classes or to those things really brought a little bit of tension of thinking, How long is this going to be? How are we going to be able to cope?

But also, it was just the opportunity of finding ideas and being creative and being available for friends that were just new in the journey of homeschooling. 

Erin: Yeah. Well, can I show you a photo girls? 

Alejandra: Yes, please.

Erin: This is actually two photos side by side. That's me—pre and post pandemic. Right before the pandemic began, I was having a good hair day. But also me just a couple of weeks ago, as we were doing our Grounded Walk in the Word Challenge. You can see those photos if you subscribe to the Revive Our Hearts’ YouTube, or Facebook. I put those photos on my phone side by side. I've felt the sense that I shouldn't rush past it.

I should feel the grief of what's happened. I'm 20 pounds heavier. Everybody talks about the COVID-19. I've got that plus one. There's some definitely some new wrinkles on the face next to new gray hairs. I feel sad for my body. I feel sad for the toll that has been taken on my body. 

During these 365 days I’ve worked full time; I've schooled my four kids; I have cared for two family members with dementia. There have been a couple of pretty long runs where I was the daily caregiver for those people because we couldn't lean into volunteers and friends like we could pre-pandemic.

I buried a family member who died alone in a nursing home. As I look at those two pictures, I think, well, girl, you haven't gotten through this unscathed.

It has been a difficult year. While I celebrate God's faithfulness, I also acknowledge that it's biblical to lament. It's biblical to say, this has been hard and I am changed by it. And the blessings and burdens of motherhood and end of life, aren't they always all mixed up together? It's not like life is always good or life is always bad, or we could just put it in these categories. They tend to come together. So, I wonder what have been the specific motherhood or just life blessings for you this year, Alejandra?

Alejandra: Definitely, what you just mentioned there. There is an end to our plans; there is an end to ourselves; there is an end to our agendas. It was just as erasing our calendar completely and just saying, “Lord, every day, we're just gonna do what You asked us to do.” And to me, I guess that was the biggest blessing. I am a teacher to by profession. So, to me, everything had to be a little bit planned. 

But just letting go and saying, “Lord, just put the work before us and help us to serve You.” Being more attentive to that was definitely a great blessing. 

Erin: Yeah. How about you, Portia? As you look back, where do you see blessings?

Portia: Patience, just as my child is knocking over all of my furniture, I think that God has had . . . I remember praying pre-pandemic and asking God ton help me to be more patient and to hold life more loosely.

I think through the pandemic that has happened, like I've learned to be more flexible to just kind of go with the flow to be a mama and not feel like there's such a tension between everything else I do in life and being a mom and a wife. 

Erin: Yeah, you know, we'd love to hear about the blessings and burdens in your life this year. Chris wrote, “This isolation, man did we experience isolation? Isolation drew me so much closer to His heart,” meaning the Lord's heart, “and showed me things I really needed to understand and brought deep healing which has freed me for my future to His glory. Thank you, God and Coronavirus. 365 days later.” She's able to thank God for the isolation because the Lord used it. 

So, women were caretakers, mother or not, children at home or not. We are caretakers. We are the matriarch of our families, which makes us frontline workers. And a realization for us, it's not the primal scream that the news is reporting about. I hope we've learned that mundane doesn't mean it's not ministry. And for me, this might have been my biggest ministry year yet.

Alejandra: That's right. You know, moms are doing such an important work. If you are a mom, just hear that you are doing an amazing job. If you know of a mom, let her know today that she is doing such an important work. Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth says that “moms are passing the baton of faith from one generation to the next.” And no one has a greater responsibility for doing that than moms. 

So let's just reflect of how many prayers we have prayed during this pandemic. How many times we have spoken words of peace and comfort? How many times have we pointed our children or our family members, their hearts to Jesus, to trust in Jesus? How many times have you cooked, cleaned, washed those dishes? 

Erin: A lot.

Alejandra: A lot. You know what it matters? It matters. And we want to pray for you as we continue, as you continue to pass the baton of the gospel to your children and to the people around you. So, let's pray.

Lord, we love You. We thank You for this opportunity. And I just want to pray for the moms that are listening that are watching that they will understand the magnificent calling that You have placed upon their lives, and that You will give them the strength to carry out this calling, understanding that we are doing this because we love You. We are doing this because You've called us, and we are doing this to honor You to serve You. Thank You, Lord for the blessing of motherhood. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen. 

Dannah: Amen. mundane does not mean it's not ministry. I'm going to carry that one with me today. 

Well, one of the memories of the pandemic that I think I'm going to carry for the rest of my life is when a group of us from Revive Our Hearts gathered in a Zoom Room. We wanted to just decide how we could serve women during this unprecedented time. Remember that word showing up on absolutely everything. We overworked it. It's tired, we should retire it. My thought that day as we gathered as a team was this, The church was made for this. We were made for this. God calls us at times like this to rise up. 

And Nancy said in that meeting, Erin wrote this down, “The government is doing their jobs; the medical community is doing their job. We've got to do our job to care for the souls of people.” That's what we've wanted to do. And we brought Grounded to you. The maiden voyage first episode was on March 23, 2020, almost one year ago. As we as we reflect on this past year, we thought it'd be fun to just take a peek at the first few episodes broadcast during the initial lockdown.

Erin: Well, welcome to Grounded. Today’s the first day, the maiden voyage, a brand-new daily videocast from Revive Our Hearts

Susan Hunt: It is the greatest reality in my life right now. It is the gladness that Jesus is giving me in the midst of grief upon grief.

Dannah: The word revival is coming up a lot. Do you see it? It is some of what we should be expectant for and hoping for right now. 

Dan Nold: I can't help but be expectant for that. I think for 20 years that's all I've prayed for. 

Kristyn Getty: So many things that we usually have, have been stripped away so suddenly, and we're forced into the situation I think more deeply to work out. Where is our worth? Where is our identity? Where is our hope?

Erin: You can just say out loud to your people, “We need revival.” We cannot bear the thought of this pandemic coming to an end without seeing revival. 

I wanted to wake up today and stand at the base of a redwood tree. That was my dream because I wanted to start the second half of my life aware of my smallness. I feel like you guys have done that for me, with great pillars of the faith, you women whom I respect and admire. You're my oaks of righteousness planted by streams of living water. 

Karen Loritts: When I was this young person who was lost and wanted to run away wanted, to commit suicide because life was just too burdensome. Jesus stepped in and saved this young girl with the gospel truth. 

Stephen Kendrick: What is God doing? He's doing what He's always been doing. He is unchanging. He's the same yesterday, today and forever. He is ruling and reigning supreme from the throne. He is judging the nations. Scripture says that He's bringing down the idols of men. 

Jonathan Coll: Well, obviously, there's been a lot of loss this year, just with the whole being a senior and everything. We're losing our senior trip and prom and graduation. But God has really been teaching me the importance of being thankful.

Ray McKelvy: I see the church going, wait a second, this isn't contrived. This isn't made up. This is actually real. I see a lot of my brothers and sisters saying, “Okay, what can we do?” 

Erin: On June 1, the Grounded husband encouragement challenge began, and listen to this . . . This is a brand-new number just updated as of this morning. 580 Grounded viewers are making that challenge together. 

Dannah: So, JoJo, we have a surprise for you. Susan Hunt is with us this morning just for you. Welcome, Susan. 

Susan Hunt: Hi, thank you, thank you. JoJo, I just love hearing your story. I'm sitting in my living room, you're in yours. I feel as if we're sitting together, and we can just talk. 

JoJo Starbuck: I’m so honored.

Susan: I love getting to know you. As I listen to your story, it's as if I'm hearing in some ways my own story. But also, the stories of so many women who wonder, Why am I here? What is my purpose? 

JoJo: Well, I have to tell you that I feel as excited as when when my partner and I made our first Olympic team. When Susan’s face came on, and to talk, all of us together live, it's just . . . 

Erin: She’s an Olympian. Susan Hunt is an Olympic gold medalist.

JoJo: She is totally an Olympian.

Robyn McKelvy: I have to remember every second of the day, every minute of the day, every hour of the day, whose I am. If I don't believe that, and I stopped believing what the world says, that I am just because of the color of my skin, then that makes us live in vain. But I have a purpose to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with everybody I come in contact with. That's one of the beautiful things, one of the stories about when ReNay’s husband, Donnelly, when he was in the back of the car, he's sharing Christ with a police officer. 

Harold MacKenzie: Lord, this is a divinely appointed time. These things have not caught you by surprise. 

So we thank you for your redemptive plan, even in the darkest hours of this disease, and of the pain of racism in our country. In Jesus’ wonderful, glorious name, amen. 

Dannah: Wow, man, I have chills. We have created some beautiful memories together, haven't we friends? As we have been grounded in hope and perspective that can only be found in Jesus Christ. 

Well, one year later, Grounded is still on, because we still need hope and perspective. We still need to be grounded in Jesus Christ. I miss it when I'm not with you. In fact, I wasn't with you last week, and I did miss you. I was back in Philadelphia using that time to rest and reflect on the year. I found a treasure I want to share with you today. It's from James 1.

Now, before I could find this treasure in the Bible, I first had to find this gift. A crocus. The first promise that our long hard winter, as the President called it recently, was coming to an end. And what I found wasn't just one crocus, but an entire field of them. There was someone else who was pretty happy about it. The honeybees. I have never in my life seen so many together at one time, both crocuses and honeybees. 

I courageously and carefully did what only Dannah Gresh could do, I crawled out into the middle, I found a spot to sit in there and take it all in. Right in the middle of the honeybees and all the sound. It was as if those busy bees were rejoicing right along with me that the long winter was over and the harvest had begun. 

As I sat there reflecting and talking to the Lord, I wondered what might be harvested from my heart as this long year ends?

As I thought about that, this familiar verse came to my mind. It's James 1:17. Let me read it to you. It says, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.”

Ah, yes, thank you, Father, for this field of flowers and these wonderful honeybees. Every good and perfect gift comes from the Father.

I began to thank Him. Then I felt an invitation to go into my hotel room and read James 1. These familiar verses are in James 1, “Count it all joy when you meet trials.” Have we had a lot to count lately? We should have. “If you lack wisdom, ask God who gives generously.” I don't know about you. But I should have needed to ask for wisdom this year. “Blessed are you as you remain steadfast under trial,” as if we were going to be told hang in there; you can keep doing it. I began to think James chapter 1 was really a summary of the last 12 months. 

And then there was every good and perfect gift comes from the Father. Did you know that verse was buried at the end of a chapter on hardship? I sat there pondered the irony. You know what I thought of next? When we pre-COVID, of course, visiting someone in the hospital, we often stop by the gift shop before we visit their room. Why? Because a good gift brightens a dark day.

Maybe we do it because it's what the Father does. I began to think of all the good gifts the Father has given to me in this long year. For example, since I wasn't on the road touring and teaching with True Girl as I would normally, Lexi and I, my daughter and I, we started baking on Friday nights. We even perfected the croissant, no easy task I might add. Every good and perfect gift comes from the Father.

I got hours and hours and hours of extra time with my new twin grandbabies Addy and Zoey that I wouldn't have had otherwise, every good and perfect gift comes from the Father. 

You know, even the tears on Christmas day when I couldn't be with my mother and father, those tears were proof of the treasure I have in my family, every good and perfect gift comes from the Father. 

And Bob and I, well, I gotta admit, all those extra hours together revealed some communication situations. We got to fix them. We got to fix those problems, every good and perfect gift comes from the Father. So many gifts, friends, I can't even count them. But the greatest gift, it was one that you helped the Father give to me. I've joined the early riser club, something I've been trying to do for years successfully. 

You see, Grounded didn't just happen. Erin Davis and I had to get up early, very early as in 5:30, early for 75 days in a row during the initial lockdown. Apparently, that will change a woman's sleeping rhythm. My husband now calls me his six o'clock girl. I love it. Because it represents something. Intimacy with God, intimacy with God that I found through this pandemic through the isolation and through getting up early. It was a gift from my Father, every good and perfect gift comes from the Father. 

Yeah, it's been a long, hard year friends. But if you look closely enough, I think you'll see to that our Father has stopped at the gift shop on his way to visit. 

Erin: Oh, I love the visual of that. Dannah, our good good Father, stopping at the gift shop on His way to visit us through this dark year. You know what? I can look back this year and see places where God has brought me good and perfect gifts, even in the midst of all of that hardship that I touched on earlier. 

Dannah: Do tell Erin. Well, I'm fascinated by what stories we’ll tell. What will we say about this in 10 years and 20 years? What stories will my boys say? I think when the patina of time covers this and not enough time has gone by yet we're still in it. A year later isn't enough but time will keep marching on and eventually the coronavirus will take on this patina, like World War II took on, like the Great Depression. This patina will cover them. I think I'm gonna remember this as one of my favorite years with my family. 

Jason and my boys were just having this talk yesterday. Our oldest was asking . . . I don't think my kids will even know what the coronavirus was. And Jason was saying to them, “Boys, I think you're going to look back at this as one of the best years of your life. And so, I think about stuff in the gift shop. 

My kindergartener lost his first tooth during lockdown. And it didn't come home in one of those little plastic teeth from the nurse.I was there. We pulled it out at the lunch table. I got to be a part of it. My boys and I have had hundreds, that's not an exaggeration, hundreds of lunch, picnics. We've explored our community. We've lived here eight years. We found parks we've never found, we found creeks we've never found before. We found the best picnic spots this year. 

Dannah: I love it:

Erin: And we've had some really beautiful conversations, really hard conversations, but beautiful. We've prayed a lot together. We have read our Bibles a lot more together. We're more grateful for each other. Right now, my plan is for my children to head back to school in the fall. I'm acutely aware that I will never again have them home with me in this same way. I will never again have all four boys home with me every single day, and it's just been a tremendous gift.

Dannah: Every good and perfect gift comes from the Father.

Erin: Yeah, amen. I think He bought out the whole gift shop for me and probably for you too. 

Hey as we're reflecting on this year. We want to bring back a segment from the early days. It's a favorite of mine. It's one we called it “Thank you coronavirus.”

Dannah: Yay. 

Erin: Yeah, after a while we started to feel like well, we maybe don't need to keep saying that. But it's our way of showing that we're grateful that God has given us grace through this tough year. He's given us grace; He's given us gifts. We know He's given you gifts. You're sharing some of them in the chat. We want to hear more of them. But before we tell you our “thank you coronavirus,” we thought we'd read some of yours. Portia, you got one to read for us. 

Portia: Yes. Wendy says, “Thank You, Lord, for using COVID-19 to show us the importance of things that cannot be cancelled.”

Dannah: Oh yes. In cancel culture. I like that one. 

Erin: Yeah, good. 

Alejandra: Yeah, that's a pretty good one. Another says, “Thank you COVID-19 for allowing me time to slow down. I think we all need that and pray while I consider what's important and what's not.”

Erin: Yeah, good. 

Dannah: Debbie said, “Thank you coronavirus for giving us a glimpse of what our missionaries in the field experience as they're separated physically from the church. It gives us a better idea of how to pray for them.” I love that. I love that.

How about you hosts, tell me what’s your “thank you coronavirus?”

Portia: Thank you coronavirus for teaching me to slow down. Like y'all know me. I have a tendency to do the most, and like I needed to pull some things off my plate and scale back and slow down and savor life and life time with my family and my daughter. So thank you coronavirus for doing that. 

Alejandra: That’s right. Well, thank you coronavirus for drawing me closer to Jesus. That time that Dannah was talking about? I think that was needed. Thank you coronavirus. 

Erin: I would say thank you coronavirus for Grounded. Many of you are sharing such sweet stories about how Grounded has been a blessing to you this year. We celebrate that. I want you to know that's all the Lord. That's not anything we've done, because Grounded has been a blessing to me. This program has grounded me, this community of women that I have gotten to spend time with every day for a while and now every week has been such a gift. I really have become more grounded in God's Word because of you. 

Dannah: I love that. I guess I would say thank you coronavirus for making me an early riser. I smile when I get up. I'm saying, “What has happened to me? It’s like a whole-body takeover. But truly it is a wonderful time for me to be more intimate with Jesus. You've been a part of that. So thank you for giving me that gift. Well, as we say goodbye tonight, today, I have to say…

Erin: Some people are watching it at night, so there you go. 

Dannah: That's right. We have international visitors who are in the middle of the night watching. 

Erin: Right. 

Dannah: We love them. 

Erin: Yeah.

Dannah: Well, last night, Bob and I watched 60 Minute,s and we watched a report on the COVID-19, sort of a forecast for the future. All I could think is the news is stuck on repeat. It just replays more and more bad news with different words and a different time stamp on it. But here's our headline one year later, it's the same one we've had last year. At this time. It's this, God Is Faithful. And that will be the headline one year from today. 

Erin: That will be the headline the year after that and the year after that and the decade after that and the millennium after that. That is the headline. 

Dannah: Yep. 

Portia: You know, it's one year later, and maybe you have lost loved ones. Maybe you've even been separated from dear friends and loved ones throughout this pandemic. But guess what? God is faithful. 

Alejandra: He is faithful indeed. And we hope that you understand that and that you cling to that for the years ahead. 

Dannah: Yeah, that you experience it, that you know it, that you know it in your inner knower, because one year later, we still have Jesus, we still have each other. And that is a powerful perspective, 

Erin: Man. It sure is. So for the next 365 days and beyond, let's keep waking up with hope together, here on Grounded.

Grounded. is a production of Revive Our Hearts, calling women to freedom, fullness and fruitfulness in Christ.

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About the Guest

Amy Harris

Amy Harris

Amy Harris is an English and Bible teacher at Grace Prep High School in State College, PA. She is a wife to Wade, a mom of four kids ages ten–seventeen, and currently a host mom to her eighteen-year-old son from Korea. When she is not teaching or with family, she loves taking long naps. 

About the Hosts

Erin Davis

Erin Davis

Erin Davis is an author, blogger, and speaker who loves to see women of all ages run to the deep well of God’s Word. She is the author of many …

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Portia Collins

Portia Collins

Portia Collins is a Christian Bible teacher and writer/blogger who enjoys studying and teaching Scripture.  Portia is the founder of "She Shall Be Called" (SSBC), a women’s ministry centered on …

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Dannah Gresh

Dannah Gresh

When Dannah Gresh was eight years old, she began praying that God would use her as a Bible teacher for “the nations.” When she sees the flags of many countries …

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Alejandra Slemin

Alejandra Slemin

Alejandra is a sinner who believed in Jesus at the age of seven in her native country, Dominican Republic. She is a wife and homeschool mom. She's passionate about Christ, …

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