I appreciate the convenience technology affords us, especially in these times of social distancing, but there are some things I refuse to let go of. I’ll take a printed book instead of an e-version any day, still subscribe to the local newspaper, and prefer a pretty paper calendar over one connected to my email. In fact, I have some traditions associated with the latter.
I start each year by writing birthdays and anniversaries on the pristine pages. These milestones are recorded in ink. All other entries are penciled in as they come up— adventures to look forward to, savor, and then look back on as well as more mundane commitments like getting my teeth cleaned.
I suppose my habit of writing changeable events in pencil began shortly after my career did. (I didn’t have a computer, much less an iPhone in 1980!) I soon discovered there are many moving pieces to corporate life and that meetings were apt to change as were travel plans, so pencil it was. Forty years later, I’m still penciling in items subject to change.
Cancellations Here, There, and Everywhere
I never would have imagined all the times I’d reach for my trusty Pink Pearl eraser this year. One by one, activities came off my calendar — appointments of various kinds, lunches with friends, 5k races, garden tours, even Grammie days — disappearing into so much eraser stubble. The avalanche of cancellations gradually turned into a trickle, sparking tentative hope the few remaining events, further in the future, could be salvaged.
Alas, the cancellations continued. A calendar entry marking a much-anticipated family reunion in South Dakota became the latest to succumb to my eraser, another casualty of unknowns surrounding the trajectory of COVID-19.
I recognize my situation played out repeatedly, as individuals and families the world over canceled or postponed activities, some long-awaited like weddings and graduations, others traditions looked forward to from year to year. So. Many. Disappointments.
Like many of you, I took advantage of online sermons to fill the gap created by the suspension of in-person worship services. In one such sermon, “From Grumbling to Joy,” Pastor Chris Hodge talked about how quickly we complain when our plans are disrupted or when things are taken away from us. He went on to point out that believers can rejoice, even in suffering, because God has made provision for us in Jesus’ sacrifice and is sustaining us in all our troubles. Too often our joy rests in Jesus plus something or someone else. But the Gospel should be our everything; our joy is complete in Jesus.
And then this statement, which I’ve since added to my arsenal of truth: “No matter how many things are taken away from you, no one can take Jesus and what He’s done for you away.” 
What a blessed assurance! God chose me to be His daughter before the foundation of the world. Jesus’ precious blood erased my sins from God’s record and from His memory (Psalm 130:3-4; Psalm 103:11-12, Isaiah 43:25). Furthermore, His atoning sacrifice ensures my name is written in the Book of Life, not in pencil, but in permanent ink (Revelation 3:5).
Restrictions are easing in Georgia and I am beginning to pencil in appointments on my calendar again, hoping and praying for the return of ordinary activities and interactions. I previously took way too many of them for granted and was even happy when my dentist’s assistant called to reschedule my cleaning!
But no matter what our “new normal” looks like, there will be dangers and unknowns just like there were before we ever heard of COVID-19. And so, dear readers, I pray we’ll fix our eyes not on our ever-changing circumstances, but on never-changing heavenly realities (2 Corinthians 4:17-18), rejoicing that the One we belong to is Sovereign over all.
Heavenly Father, this life holds many uncertainties and disappointments even when we’re not in the midst of a pandemic. Thank You for the certain provision You’ve made for us in Jesus, the promise that no one will ever snatch us out of Your hand, and the assurance of eternal life in Your presence (John 10:27-29).
 My grandchildren and I refer to the days I spend with them each week, usually Mondays and Wednesdays, as “Grammie days”.
 “From Grumbling to Joy”, Pastor Chris Hodge, King’s Cross Church, on-line sermon, April 26, 2020.
About the Author:
Patsy often refers to herself as “Gardening Grammie,” a title that encompasses two of her favorite pastimes. Widowed at age 38, she was blessed to be gainfully employed all the years she spent raising two daughters on her own. When her job was eliminated several years ago, she returned to school to study horticulture, a passion born of caring for the garden her husband left as part of his legacy. She is Grammie to three small but enthusiastic garden helpers. Patsy started her blog, Back 2 the Garden, to tell others of God’s faithfulness. She is a member of Grace Covenant Church in Dallas, GA where she serves on the Women’s Ministry Committee and leads women’s Bible studies.