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  • Writer's pictureNicky Stade

The sun is beginning to set on 2020. We enter into autumn exhausted, wary, & overwhelmed. Fall used to be a time of new beginnings, anticipation of upcoming celebrations, new friends, reuniting with families over holiday dinners—my biggest ire of the season was the fact that I seem to be in the minority when it comes to the idea of combining pumpkin and coffee (gross)!

Instead, we’re faced with a never-ending pandemic, horrifying wildfires, destructive hurricanes, devastating unemployment, distance learning and endless debates about politics, public safety, and justice. Everywhere we turn, there is more bad news. We used to be able to laugh at it to hide the pain (“Apocalypse Bingo” memes were my favorite), but then other coping mechanisms began to surface: reports showed a dramatic increase in alcohol sales; suicidal ideation went up due to isolation at the same that anxiety, depression and grief became overwhelming…even pastors began to leave the ministry—or seriously consider it—because it has become too much to handle.

This has been a hard year for us all.

Like much of the world, my life hasn't been the same since March when we entered the stay-at-home order. Originally only expecting to be inside for 10 days, I never thought we'd remain in a season of "what if" 186 days later. I still spend much of my time inside the walls of my home, trying to do work, school and play in creative socially-distant ways. Pre-pandemic, when things would get tough, it wasn't difficult to escape to a movie with a friend or pack up my mobile office to spend the afternoon in a coffee shop for some undistracted work time. Now for a change of scenery, I'm limited to the couch, the kitchen table, or my bedroom. Escaping with a friend might look like a Zoom call in the home office or wearing face masks while 6 feet apart on a short hike. I miss hugs, sharing chips & salsa, and lingering at the table long after the check comes.

But as I looked out my window the other day, through the screen and beyond the palm trees I saw an orange sky framing a beautiful fireball. Sunsets like this only happen because of destruction from smoke and fire, yet somehow there is still beauty to be found in this moment. Another day was coming to an end, but with it a promise: tomorrow is coming and with it a clean slate, a fresh start.

This isn't the first time our world has experienced difficult times. Over the centuries, our loved ones suffered through famines, world wars, plagues, dust bowls and floods. Each day, the sun would set in the evening and rise again in the morning. It continues to do so today, and will continue for generations to come (God willing).

We can choose to be discouraged and full of despair because 2020 is almost over, and we seemingly have nothing to show for it except chaos and disorder; or we can view this as a promise that 2020 is almost over, and a new beginning is just around the corner.

I think today—for the sake of my own well-being and for the sake of the next generation that follows—today I’ll focus on the promise: following every sunset is a sunrise.

“Let the name of the Lord be praised, both now and forevermore. From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets, the name of the Lord is to be praised.”

Psalm 113:2-4

  • Writer's pictureNicky Stade

What can I say that hasn’t already been said? Something has been wrong for a very long time, and unfortunately, many are just now waking up to it—and even worse, many more are still shutting their eyes tight, refusing to believe.

I’ve been scrolling the news sites, the social media feeds, the stories, the pictures all week and I’m just speechless. But my speechlessness must not be mistaken for silence. Instead of trying to write something witty or profound this time, I want to simply encourage you to listen to the voices that so desperately need to be heard. They should no longer be silenced—their peaceful protests have gone unheard and they are now crying out in the streets. When will we stop and listen to them?

  • Writer's pictureNicky Stade

I was in Target on Sunday doing my weekly shopping trip with my husband, daughter and one of my two adult sons. We were all wearing our masks and practicing good social distancing, and trying to get through our list quickly so we could make room for those waiting outside in the heat to have their turn.

I always wish I could smile at the people I pass by, and I often complain that it’s hard to breathe under these things! As I turned down one aisle, I noticed a young couple shopping together and I saw something I hadn’t seen in public in a while: a bright smile! She was wearing a mask, but he wasn’t. They laughed as they walked down the aisle with their cart, but I couldn’t hear what they were saying. It made me smile, though, remembering back to before we had kids & we would shop together without a care in the world.

As I went from the toasters to the freezer section and back to the sparkling waters, I kept running into this same couple—both laughing, one with a mask and one without. A couple times I smiled at them (and then would remember they couldn’t see it), when something finally occurred to me: she was wearing a mask, but he wasn’t.

She was. He...wasn’t.

Maybe he forgot it in the car? Maybe he was a recovered COVID patient? I know, I know, it’s none of my business. But the sad thing is, I suspect it was for a different reason...

We live in a country where men like him must take every precaution to appear non-threatening even at the risk of his own exposure to a deadly virus. Where men like him have to double and triple check their every move to make people like me feel safe, even on a sunny, Sunday afternoon while grocery shopping.

We live in a country where we idolize football and basketball and baseball players, and we cry foul when our gyms are closed, yet a young man can’t go for a jog through his neighborhood without being hunted and killed because of the amount of melanin in his genetic code...a country where we can’t mourn and grieve the loss of an innocent life without first asking if we’ve heard both sides of the story—because we just assume he must have deserved it.

We live in a country where some freedoms are valued above others. Some people have the right to assume they will come home safely from a run and others don’t. Some people can charm their way out of a traffic ticket and others have to keep their hands above the steering wheel where we can see them. Some people can storm the Governor’s office with masks and guns and call it a peaceful protest but others are “rioting” and “troublemakers”. Some people can wear a hoodie home at night because it’s cold out, but others can’t.

Some people are human and others are hunted.

My heart aches every time I read the headlines. Scrolling through my social media has been hard today—so much pain...not enough justice.

How many more lives, Lord? How much more can our brothers and sisters take?

I know I’d be angry...I AM angry! I’m appalled that this is still our reality. I’m furious that people still don’t get it. I’m saddened that I can’t fix it. And I’m ashamed that I’m allowed to freely express all of these emotions while those personally affected are not, because I’m a white woman. No one sees me as a threat. I will sleep tonight knowing my sons aren’t in any danger. My husband can wear his mask in public without fear. I wish everyone had this same privilege.

We HAVE to do better. We have to BE better! I don’t know where to even begin, but to my black brothers and sisters, I hope you hear my broken heart tonight:

You are seen. You are loved. And I grieve with you.

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