Coronavirus Lockdown Journal Week 7: May 4-10


On May 1st Yolo County extended the shelter-in-place order that started in on March 18th:

Some of the county is opening up, with certain outdoor activities such as golf and archery now permitted. Drive-in religious services are also open as of May 4th. 

Lori and I have been posting a weekly journal updated every day or two to mark thoughts, reflections, and news related to life sheltering-at-home.

This is week 7 of the lockdown.


Saturday, May 9, 2020

The Wonder Woman I Knew–A Mother’s Day Poem (Lori)

I will start with Beauty,
You always were that to me—
Green eyes, copper hair, and long flowing dresses,
The color of your lipstick and faint smell of hairspray,
Fill my early childhood memories with good things. 

Then there was the test of Strength, 
Mom, you got really sick. 
The doctors couldn’t figure it out, 
Some even believed you made it all up;
But we found a doctor who helped us understand 
As you lived with a chronic health condition for many years. 
You kept on going, living your life and in that resilience
Found a way to help others with similar conditions. 

Ohh my dear mother, you were the Love. 
I rarely had reason to doubt it. 
You were constantly by my side, 
Through every up and down I faced.
In my teen years you showed me that 
Love must sometimes be tough, 
But always believes and hopes for the best,
In me—your only child. 

The Grace and dignity you showed,
You extended it to many others. 
No one was excluded from your circle 
Of friendship and loyalty. 
You laughed with others in times of joy,
You held the hand of a friend suffering from terminal cancer. 
You taught me how to connect with people in meaningful ways. 

I speak the Truth,
I testify,
To these things that you were and still are, 
Even though you have left this earth. 
You never wore a cape or carried a lasso, 
But you were a wonderful woman,
A Wonder Woman to me.


Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Quarantine Nail Party (Lori)

Those who keep in touch with me on social media know I enjoy giving myself manicures. Manicures (and occasionally pedicures) are fulfilling to me in two ways: self-care and to show my creative side.  I am happy to share my most recent manicure in this entry. 

Why nail polish? Isn’t it sticky, smelly, time-consuming, and troublesome? If I am being completely honest, it is all of those things. If you can pull off the perfect at-home manicure, it seems to start chipping or peeling off as soon as you get it done.

Why bother? 

My struggle with anxiety began in childhood. I made a friend in elementary school who lived across the street from me for a few years. She and I became close friends almost right away. We had a lot of common ground—similar interests, of course—but namely we both found our home lives somewhat stressful. She had two older sisters and they were all within three years apart in age.

So, when I went over to play Barbies at her house, there was a lot of slamming doors and yelling between sisters. Over at my house, we watched TV in a home where a chilly silence had taken over. My family members avoided each other either physically and/or emotionally and I had no siblings.

We both struggled with anxiety—and both bit our fingernails hard and deep. Sometimes my nails would bleed and I needed to use band-aids. 

My friend and I shared some kind of deep understanding of our own personal struggles—not something nine and ten-year-olds are able to articulate but we could sense the feeling of deep camaraderie between the two of us. It seemed okay to bite my fingernails and I knew someone else who did the same thing, so why not? It relieved a lot of anxiety for me. 

When I started getting negative comments about my nails from family members and classmates at school, then I knew something was wrong. All the other kids in my class seemed to have short, evenly clipped fingernails. Not jagged, torn nails like mine or my friend’s nails. With my friend learning in a different classroom the next year at school, it gave me the space to consider how I could stop this habit. What could I do?


We both struggled with anxiety—and both bit our fingernails hard and deep.

Sometimes my nails would bleed and I needed to use band-aids. 


Enter the new girl into my classroom in the middle of that school year. She had short blonde, curly hair, an infectious laugh, easygoing manner and wore light blue nail polish. With glitter in it. Wow! I was completely enraptured by this.

I had seen my grandmother wear clear nail polish and my mom—on occasion for a fancy dinner—wear a pale pink color. I didn’t even know this light blue glittery color existed. I made friends with the new girl at lunch that day and I when I went home after school, all I could think about was that nail polish. I had to get myself invited to her house and grow my nails out long enough to paint them with the coveted color.

It took about three weeks of cold-turkey no-nail-biting resolve, but I finally had baby stubs for nails. And sure enough, she invited me over to play one afternoon and I polished my nails a glittery baby blue. I never bit my nails on a regular basis again. 

I decided to give myself another quarantine manicure two days ago. My last one chipped after doing lots of dishes, so I decided to start over. The main color is “Storm” by Zoya. It’s a black nail polish with flecks of multi-colored glitter in it.

I looked off and on for this nail color for a few years and finally found it at a local store. It reminds me of this uncertain time we are going through with the pandemic—sort of like a storm on the sea or in the sky. It suddenly comes and goes without warning. It is dark but there are glimpses of light and brightness during storms. That gives me hope.

The bright pink color on the accent nail is from China Glaze, a nail polish brand that I love. I didn’t realize it was from the Sesame Street collection they have until after I purchased the polish. Well, Sesame Street was born the same year I was and the color is named, “Fur Real Though.” It’s a happy color and I also have some daisies and miniature roses that are blooming in my garden in the same vibrant hue. 

I hope you have found some activities during this time of shelter-in-place that are fun and meaningful to you. And maybe after this is all over, I’ll put my 50+ bottles of nail polish on display. You can come over and borrow a bottle or two!


Monday, May 4, 2020

The Illusion of Control (Howard)

As long as I can remember I’ve wanted to control my environment and future. I attribute this neurotic personality trait to what felt like a chaotic upbringing. Outside of my home I experienced bullying for being Chinese and having a visible skin disease. Inside the home I felt unsafe for reasons I won’t go into detail here.

The chaos from without seeped into my heart in a way that led me to feel insecure and anxious within. The coronavirus pandemic and lockdown are showing me how far I’ve come, but also how much I struggle with control issues.

A Child Needing Order in Chaos

As I entered my teenage years I began to make more decisions for myself. I naturally sought to limit uncertain outcomes and surprises. Of course, I couldn’t control everything so I focused on a few areas.

I became a straight-A student, preparing tirelessly so I could do the best on the exam. I avoided awkward social situations. I stayed out as long as I could each day, mainly going home to sleep and shower.

The chaos from without seeped into my heart in a way that led me to feel insecure and anxious within.

In college I took classes designed to my academic strengths. I sidestepped courses that required oral presentations or long papers, opting for problem sets. This way I could minimize the ambiguity of subjective grading. Even though my psoriasis spread out of control, I diligently treated it everyday according to what my doctor prescribed. At least that much I could control.

Addressing a Lack of Control

At various stages of my life I’ve continued to try to control my environment and outcomes. I finally asked a therapist whom I saw in 2011 for about two months for a major depressive episode why I felt so angry and anxious about what I could not control.

He helped me see the ineffective ways I coped with the insecurity and fears in my heart. Some negative habits I could attribute to poor coping skills. But my strong drive to control outcomes and avoid risky situations appeared to directly correlate with my internal struggles.

A great example of my need for control came up in a therapy session. I planned to join my mentor on a trip to the UK to explore starting a project there. So much was out of my control: would I travel well alone; would my skin hold up on an international trip; would I adapt to a new culture (a car almost hit me on a country road when I looked the wrong way before crossing); would I speak well; etc.

[My therapist] helped me see the ineffective ways I coped with the insecurity and fears in my heart.

I wanted to know how to best approach this anxiety inducing situation. He told me I needed courage and faith.

Courage and Faith

As I look back on an incredible and productive trip to England a decade ago, I’m struck with how right my therapist was. I tend to shrink in fear when I enter a situation with as much ambiguity and variability. But facing it with the courage that God gives, an expression of faith really, I made it through that passage in much better shape.

In the coronavirus pandemic I’m once again faced with so many uncertainties about health, future plans, and family (Lydia took a Covid-19 test this week; we’re awaiting results). Once again I sense the need to call up the courage that comes through faith in an awesome God to face down these giants.

It’s a daily struggle, and I am genuinely fatigued like so many others with lockdown measures and fears of getting sick with Covid-19. Just a reminder to take life moment-by-moment as the veil that is the illusion of control is ripped off by this virus.

Coronavirus Lockdown Journal Week 6: April 27–May 3

On March 19, 2020 California Governor Newsom announced a statewide stay-at-home order. Here is a screenshot from my phone:

Currently the lockdown continues until May 1st, although the Yolo County site says that an extension is forthcoming. With the president and some states now opening up the economy, there is a glimmer of hope the lockdown will let up even more so in California and Yolo County in the coming weeks. 

Until then, Lori and I continue to post a weekly journal updated every day or two to mark thoughts, reflections, and news related to life sheltering-at-home.

This is week 6 of the lockdown.


Saturday, May 2, 2020

When Plans Change

“’Cause I told you my level of concern, 

But you walked by like you never heard, 

And you could bring down my level of concern,

Just need you to tell me we’re alright, tell me we’re okay.”

-twenty one pilots

I love Hawaii. And what’s not to love? Beaches, mountains carved from volcanoes, weather that changes from rain to sunshine in a moment, pineapple fields, the Aloha spirit of those who live there.

We are supposed to be in Hawaii right now. Celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary that was actually LAST August. We went to Honolulu for our honeymoon and have never been back.

A photo on my desk of Howard from our Honeymoon in Hawaii, August 1994

Our destination this time was supposed to be Maui. We’ve heard wonderful things about Maui from friends who have visited. I can remember how excited I felt when Howard booked the plane tickets. I thought, “Wow. This will be a time to really celebrate all we’ve been through together the past 25 years—to reminisce and enjoy time together in a blissful tropical location. Just the two of us.”

Now I am writing from shelter-in-place at home. After plane tickets and hotel reservations were cancelled. After the return home I thought I would be enthusiastically showing off my tropical tan, telling tales of snorkeling with fish, and boring friends and family with pictures. Lots of pictures. Proudly on display on my Facebook account.

Instead I’m rolling out of bed close to noon these days and wondering what to make for lunch. I’ve made so many lunches at home now—I don’t know anymore. Where is the lunch menu at the local Hawaiian barbeque place where I can just order from? 

The main thing I know during this time is that it’s okay to mourn the loss of this trip. It’s okay to realize flying off to Hawaii and basking in the sunshine would have been really good for my physical, emotional and mental health. It’s also okay to know that I had pumped up this trip in my mind as a “trip of a lifetime,” and none of those expectations were met. At all. 

The main thing I know during this time is that it’s okay to mourn the loss of this trip.

But my life in quarantine? It’s really good, actually. I have my husband at my side for most of the time. We pray together, we talk together, we roast and drink coffee together. I tend to my garden—it is probably the best Spring I’ve had in my garden. Ever.  

We have our son at home with us for now, and just knowing he is here doing his own thing and feeling healthy is a big deal. Seeing our daughters on FaceTime at least once a week and their smiling faces is huge. We have our dog and our kitten to look after and enjoy their company.

And really—when it comes down to it, I wouldn’t want to be in Hawaii by myself. I know that wherever I am with Howard is truly home.


Friday, May 1, 2020

Read the Bible in a Year (Howard)

Each year I attempt to read through the Bible in a year. This year, with a four-month break from work, and now shelter-at-home orders, I feel more confident I can accomplish it.

Here is a scan of the Bible reading plan I adopted some years ago with this year’s progress so far:

I know there are some great online/electronic Bible reading plans out there, but I like the simplicity and variety of this plan. Each day of the week focuses on a part of the Bible such as New Testament letters, prophets, and Gospels/Acts. I still need to catch up on the second half of Isaiah, but decided to keep going.

The best part of following a reading plan is staying in the Word each day. Over the weeks I’ve struggled with various moods and feelings related to the lockdown. Whether it is feeling sad, anxious, lethargic, fearful, or restless it seems like something I read each day helps me face the challenges of that time.

The best part of following a reading Whether it is feeling sad, anxious, lethargic, fearful, or restless it seems like something I read each day helps me face the challenges of that time.

I also enjoy sharing about what I read with Lori. Every day we spend a few moments reading Scriptures, singing praise songs, and praying. I like to reflect on highlights from my daily reading during that time.

I hope I can keep up my reading and meditation time after the lockdown ends and I’m back at work. For now it’s a needed and welcome activity that helps me through this scary and uncertain time.


Wednesday, April 29, 2020

A Day at the Zoo (Lori)

There’s a lot of attention around “Tiger King,” which is arguably a very popular coronavirus pandemic viewing experience. Meanwhile, we’ve been managing our own small menagerie at home. 

When our kids were growing up and living at home with us, our youngest always wanted to try owning new pets. She would visit her friends’ houses and then want a similar pet to what she saw there; and, yes, some of them were definitely exotic.

Geckos, chameleons, turtles, snakes, fish, etc. were all requests that were presented to us with the pleading, “Please, Mom!”, “Please Dad!” I honestly didn’t know the first thing about caring for a chameleon, so we deftly talked her into fish and hamsters.

We’ve had hamsters rolling across the living room floor in their balls and knocking into furniture. Fish had their water changed from their tanks at the sink in the laundry room.


Follow the Coronavirus Journal Series!

Coronavirus Lockdown Journal Week 3: April 6-12

Coronavirus Lockdown Journal Week 4: April 13-19

Coronavirus Lockdown Journal Week 5: April 20-26


Teddy the Terrier 

These days, we have only our dog, Teddy, and our kitten, Pippin. It’s been fairly quiet until this last week. To be honest, I was so preoccupied with meal planning and preparation I didn’t even really notice they were in the house.

Then we observed Teddy getting really tired on short walks to the park and shaking his head from side to side.

Teddy wears a cone to prevent him from chewing his paws

So, I asked Howard to check his left ear and it seems his previously diagnosed condition at the vet office flared up again. Thankfully we still have the ointment we purchased.

Then I suddenly noticed Teddy was chewing his paws again until they were red and sore. I don’t know if this is from stress about his ear condition or plain boredom, but I made him wear a cone until his feet and ear started to heal. 

Pippin the Little Tiger

Pippin is a wild one. She came to our yard about a year ago as a feral kitten. We have domesticated her somewhat but she still climbs trees, onto the roof, and hunts all kinds of creatures—from pigeons to lizards to insects.

Pippin favors her right paw after an apparent bee sting

One day I noticed she pounced on—and killed—a bee that was buzzing near my budding lemon tree. I was momentarily concerned but then relieved that she didn’t get stung by the bee. 

Continue reading →

Coronavirus Lockdown Journal Week 5: April 20-26

On March 19, 2020 California Governor Newsom announced a statewide stay-at-home order. Here is a screenshot from my phone:

Recently both the county and state extended the lockdown to May 1st. With the president and governors talking about opening up the economy again, there is hope this lockdown will end soon. 

Until then, Lori and I plan to post a weekly journal updated every day or two to mark thoughts, reflections, and news related to life sheltering-at-home.

This is week 5 of the lockdown.


Sunday, April 26, 2020

Resting and Sabbath

My sabbatical from church ends in about a month. Something I desperately looked forward to was a break from the grind of church ministry. After fifteen years of pastoral ministry without a longer break, together with the challenges and crises the family faced, I desperately wanted some time to rest.

Before I started my sabbatical an acquaintance asked me about my plans. I briefly mentioned travel, writing, and sleeping in whenever I wanted to. He told me those activities would no doubt be life giving. He also stressed the importance of mentally gaining distance and perspective from my daily work.

As I hit third base and turn toward home (excuse the baseball analogy), I can see the past three months have not turned out anything like I expected. I did travel a bit in February, but had to cancel the rest of my trips. I’ve blogged more, but haven’t come around to working on my book or study guide.

As I hit third base and turn toward home (excuse the baseball analogy), I can see the past three months have not turned out anything like I expected.

Sleeping in has been restorative physically, but it has been the distance from work that has renewed me in ways I didn’t anticipate. I have time to think, meditate, and process life. Lori and I can spend (relatively) stress-free afternoons together.

The mental, emotional, and spiritual renewal from this break is exactly what I needed. Although the coronavirus crisis ruined my plans (and of course it is much bigger than me and what I wanted to do), I’m glad the time turned out the way it has.


Finally, on this Sunday, I’m praying for those on the front lines of the Covid-19 response and those personally impacted by the illness. May God be merciful and bring healing to this devastation.


Thursday, April 23, 2020

Coronavirus and Psoriasis (Howard)

UPDATE: I mentioned on Monday that I messaged my dermatologist, Dr. Carroll, about taking Skyrizi before Tuesday. In her reply she surmised why my psoriasis flared recently: skin damage from phototherapy burn and possibly needing Skyrizi more frequently.

Since she said I could inject the medication anytime, I decided to go ahead last night. One dose comes in two syringes, so I injected one on the left and one on the right of my belly button (at least two inches out).

I experienced the normal lightheadedness and fatigue just after the injection. Still some after effects today, but definitely nothing to horrible.


With the lockdown I’ve had more time to write for my column on Everyday Health, The Itch to Beat Psoriasis. In particular, I’ve published three articles about psoriasis and the coronavirus pandemic.

I’ll finish today’s entry with links to each of them.

How I’m Managing My Psoriasis in the Shadow of the Coronavirus (3/31/20)

man in front of window at home

Preventing Coronavirus Exposure When You Have Psoriasis and Eczema (4/6/20)

Preventing-Coronavirus-Psoriasis-and-Eczema Moisturize After Cleaning Hands

Facing My Anxieties During the Coronavirus Crisis (4/21/20)

illustration man stressed with papers virus bacteria

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Cooking Together (Lori)

I have been longing for Howard and I to cook together for many years. His work as a minister is very demanding—both early morning and evening meetings in a given week that would require him to be away from home.

When would come home from work, I would want him to either take some personal time or just spend time with the children. I would figure out the dinner menu. Some days were full for me as a minister’s wife so I would skip cooking dinner completely—get some takeout from a restaurant or fast food.

It was “kid food” anyways, I reasoned, so the kids and I would all feast on fried chicken, hamburgers and fries, chicken nuggets, etc. Especially if Howard attended a small group church meeting, there were often potlucks where he could eat dinner and sample church members’ home cooking.

It was a win-win. Except I felt like something was missing. Long gone were the days when I was at my grandmother’s house helping her fix a homemade meal and then talk with her over washing the dishes afterwards—she would wash, I would dry. 

Fast-forward to today.

Continue reading →

Coronavirus Lockdown Journal Week 4: April 13-19

On March 19, 2020 California Governor Newsom announced a statewide stay-at-home order. Here is a screenshot from my phone:

Recently both the county and state extended the lockdown to May 1st. With the president and governors talking about opening up the economy again, there is hope this lockdown will end soon.

Until then, Lori and I plan to post a weekly journal updated every day or two to mark thoughts, reflections, and news related to life sheltering-at-home.

This is week 4 of the lockdown.


Follow the Coronavirus Journal Series!

Coronavirus Lockdown Journal Week 3: April 6-12

Coronavirus Lockdown Journal Week 5: April 20-26


Saturday, April 18, 2020

Family Connections During the Lockdown

I’m amazed at how well the family is able to stick together during the lockdown despite the distance between us. With children in two different places, and grandparents also in two different locations, it takes effort and persistence to connect. But we do in so many valuable ways.

I especially felt blessed by last week’s Easter Service over FaceTime. The girls led songs while I guided us through readings from John 20 and Matthew 28. During the discussion on fear and faith over Mark 8 everyone participated in sharing their thoughts and personal application.

Today’s interactions showed me just how dynamic and fun family chats and calls can be.

This afternoon Lydia forwarded to the family photos of my parents wearing the masks she made for them. Of course Ye Ye and Nai Nai are thrilled at their granddaughter’s ingenuity and love.

The photo of my parents inspired me to call them. I talked to my dad, George, for almost forty-five minutes. Somehow we started talking about the tenth anniversary of his retirement this month and memories from his time working. We also discussed the recent lockdown protests in his town, Huntington Beach, and how we’re managing staying at home.

Later, Lydia and I exchanged blogs for each other to edit. She worked faster than I, although her writing carried much more depth than mine. I edited my blog before posting the draft in the WordPress account.

Lori and I spent some time in the backyard during a perfect afternoon. We first roasted coffee together (which I summarily dumped on the concrete while cooling them), and placed garden lights around the pathway. In the early evening we cooked dinner together–a new pasta recipe.

Before eating Tim and I played some Pokémon Go (well I played and he coached me in battle league). He then turned on the Nintendo Switch to play Animal Crossing. Our dinner music included songs from K.K. Slider (it’s Saturday Tim reminded me when K.K. takes requests). He asked me if I had any songs for K.K. to play, and I just stared blankly at him.

I don’t always take note of these interactions among family members, but today it struck me how we can still be a close family despite the staying-at-home in different places.

Of course, I still prefer times we can all be in the same location. Hopefully one day soon (Memorial Day? Earlier?) we’ll be able to gather together for dinner around the table partaking a meal and catching each other up on the latest.


Thursday, April 16, 2020

The Fleeting Nature of Life–Psalm 39 (Howard)

I chatted about dying from Covid-19 with a friend during an interaction I had early in the coronavirus lockdown. I had delayed processing the possibility of dying from the virus. They, however, could say with confidence that their life is in God’s hands.

Continue reading →