Isolation 2.0. Day #2

Well, today’s the day of school news……

The state announced that all in building education is done for the year. That mean that any learning that happens will happen outside of school. What options does that leave? Online schooling, video conferencing and paper packets that get distributed are some of the options. There’s a lot of options but there’s also a lot of questions. Who has the internet access? Who doesn’t? Who has a computer they can use? Who doesn’t?

Who has the rest of their curriculum all planned out to transition that way? As someone who has done substitute teaching in the past, the logistics of all of that transition is frankly overwhelming. If you are of the praying sort, say a prayer for the teachers, the students, especially the ones that don’t handle change well, and pray for the parents, especially the parents of the kids who don’t handle change well and the parents who are planning on their kids being at school all day and balanced their work schedule around school.

And then there is the seniors, middle of March, they were looking forward to Spring Break, and all of the stuff that happens at the end of not only the school year, but a school career. Friends, teachers, fun traditions, walking across the stage for the piece of paper. All of those realities are, as expected, gone.

Compared to the pain others are going through, it doesn’t register on the “importance” scale. But we don’t compare struggles or pain. It’s not productive.

The teachers need to figure out how to do the next two months curriculum in a totally different way. Lots of people impacted in the school issues.

I heard a statistic, I don’t know how accurate the number is, but I heard that there are approximately 1.5 million students in Michigan’s public schools. If they went to school while the virus was still running rampant all over Michigan, the spread of the disease would be even more wide spread and disastrous.

Day #2 of Isolation 2.0 School and how it is handled has long term implications.


Isolation 2.0

I actually wrote this last night…..

Isolation 2.0? What’s that?

It’s what happens when the Corona Virus keeps on coming and coming and coming. And the stories that we’re seeing and reading and hearing are worse and more painful and more destructive than was anticipated.

So what do you do? You’ve been very cautious and you’ve been observing the “stay at home” advisories. And things are worse than they were.

My daughter has a heart condition. It makes her more susceptible to other types of diseases and such. And if you’ve read any of the writing I’ve been doing, you know that I’m dealing with some pretty substantial health issues of my own. This CoVid 19 virus is a respiratory illness and I’m basically operating on 1 1/2 lungs. Not a good combination.

Both of us have been observing the “stay at home” rules very carefully, but the reports keep getting worse and the estimates keep going higher in our “neck” of the woods. What do we do? What can we do? Do we wait and just stay home?

Oh, did I mention that out of the 5 of us who live at our home, 3 of us have what the government says are “essential” jobs. So, today, we instituted Isolation 2.0.

Isolation 2.0 – my daughter with the heart condition and I moved into my in-laws condo less than 2 miles from home. They are not here because they have stayed at their place in Florida to ride this COVID 19 virus out. They didn’t feel traveling was safe right now, so they stayed there. We support their decision completely.

How long are we going to be at my in-laws place? I don’t know. But I know that this puts another layer of protection between us and the virus. And that’s a good thing.

I’ll be sharing more and I expect I’ll have other things to talk about too.

Until then, stay safe and keep in touch,


2 Years

Two years ago this morning, God called my Dad home.
His battle with cancer was done.
It’s hard to say that he’s gone.

But he is.
He’s not here for the birthdays and the family gatherings.
He’s not here to listen and share about what’s going on.

There are times when the loss is felt very deeply.
Times when he’s missed for his sense of humor.
Times when the grief comes up suddenly.

And then there’s the 9:40pm bowl of ice cream that became a routine.
A routine that we often smile and joke about – especially while eating ice cream at 9:40pm.

It’s Hard to Say, but I see him in many ways and many places.
⁃ Looking down at his granddaughter’s graduation – a graduation that he missed by 32 days.
⁃ Looking down at an emotional Thanksgiving service that focused on being thankful in spite of the struggles.

It’s hard to say he’s gone.
It’s hard to say he’s not coming back even though we’ll see him again some day.

But we have so much to be grateful for.
He grew up as a little boy from Muskegon and became “a minister from a small farm community called Hudsonville.” And he always underestimated the role God called him to.
He was a great example of living a humble life while being open to what God’s got planned.

And now I’m going to end this with something I wrote on Facebook back in January…..

“So, this afternoon, I could not be prouder. He stepped way out of his comfort zone and spoke in front of an almost completely full Grand Rapids Planning Commission meeting. What did he say:

“When debating where to put a marijuana dispensary, consider your legacy. What is the next generation going to think of this generation and the decisions we make? What are they going to think about putting a marijuana dispensary across the street from a church and the church’s youth group building?

Think about that when you make your decisions.”

He said more than that, but I’m not sure I could do it justice.

At the end the commission manager thanked “that young man who spoke so succinctly and challenged us.”

That young man is my son.

I’m proud of you, Isaac Vanderwell.

Thanks for being there and thanks for letting God use your heart and passion for others.

Love you, man,


P.S. I saw Grandpa Vanderwell in the way you spoke, challenged everyone but also made God’s love come through. I’m sure he was watching and smiling.”

The “other” thing

So, in the last post, I told you there are two things I’m thinking about a lot while we’re in this Corona Pandemic. But I only told you one. What was that one?

It was the fact that while I don’t have a clue as to what God’s doing in all of this, I know he’s got a plan and he’s got us in his plan. I keep coming back to the words from Mordecai to Queen Esther in Esther 4:14-15 – who knows but God has put you where you are for such a time as this.

God put you where you are for such a time as this? What in the world are you talking about? God put me in this position so I could go through what I’m going through? God put me here in the middle of this pandemic so I could watch all of the awful news reports and feel so totally helpless?

Yes, I firmly believe God has a plan. His plan is not to “snap his fingers” and make it all go away. What I don’t know is what the purpose for this is in God’s plan. I know there is a plan and I know God is in control of that plan. I just have to trust that God’s ways and God’s plan are better than mine.

So the first “thing” is that God has a plan. The second “thing” regards something that happened two years ago tomorrow. It actually was an entire week. As many of you know, my Dad had cancer 5 times. I say “had” rather than “has” because he doesn’t have cancer any more.

The week started off with an ambulance ride to the Butterworth ER because “things” just weren’t right. Anyone who has walked with a chemo patient knows that’s not uncommon and with my Dad it wasn’t the first time. Adjust meds, adjust fluid levels and in a day or two he’d be back home. So we assumed that’s what it was, but there was one “marker” that was out of line. One statistic that didn’t match the rest and didn’t fit the usual story. So they ran more tests and looked for answers. The next evening my phone rang, well after everyone except for me was in bed. It was my Mom, she was calling all three sons to come to the hospital to talk with the doctors. So, at approximately 10:30 at night I decided to see if there were any police out looking for speeding cars going from Jenison to the hospital downtown at that time on a Tuesday night. There weren’t.

I got to my Dad’s room and there were several medical people along with my mom and one brother. For privacy and brevity, I’m going to pull a literary curtain over the next period of time except to tell you a couple of really God things that happened:
• The surgeon spent probably an hour on the knees on the floor so that she could look my dad in the eye while talking options, plans and futures.
• The surgeon was willing to spend 15 minutes on the phone with my daughter, the one who was literally 30 + days away from her doctorate in Nursing Practice (aka DNP) and was out of town at a conference. That conversation gave all of us a better sense of clarity and what the options and ramifications of the options were.

When we left the hospital at about 2:00 that morning, we did so knowing a couple of things:
• God was in that hospital room
• It was a blessing that Mom and Dad where able to make decisions together.
• It was a blessing that the three of us sons were able to be present and help them walk through this.
• I will never forget the words my Dad said after the doctor left, “It’s time for me to let go and time for you to let me go. I’m tired of fighting this thing.”

And that’s the second thing I keep thinking about during this pandemic and disaster, I wish my Dad was here. He told me once, maybe 20-30 years ago, that when your kids get to the point in life that you can become friends with them, that’s a really fun thing.

My Dad was my friend. He was an excellent listener. He had a gift for helping people see the bigger picture. He was good at helping see what really matters.

I miss my Dad. I wish he was still around to talk about all of this and what it means and how do you navigate it all,

But he’s in a much happier place and he’s healthy. Cancer doesn’t exist in Heaven.


What Do You Say?

What do you say?

When things go this way? When the news is constantly bad.

And the bad news is worse than the bad news.

Today’s bad news is worse than yesterday’s.

What do you say?

What do you say when it makes no sense?

How can this happen?

Isn’t there a cure?

What do you say?

To kids who think this is a vacation – but can’t go over to their friends house, what do you say?

To the medical people, the research people, the front line people, all working against an invisible time bomb, what do you say? (Thank You!)

When the world suddenly doesn’t seem to make sense, what do you say?

When what seemed so ordinary can no longer be ordinary, what do you do?

It’s a disease, a virus. Something that seems to attack everything in its path.

How can it be?

Mind boggling changes. Businesses shut down, plans messed up.

We’ve learned new terms…..

Social Distancing


Flattening the curve

And we’ve learned some of the basic terms from public health

And the logistics and numbers managing health care across the country….

Millions of face masks

Millions of ventilators

And the list goes on.

So what do you say?

I’ll be honest, there have been two things that have going through my head a lot this last week…..

God is in control. I don’t know how, I don’t know what he’s got planned. There have been many things in my life, especially the last few years, where it has been hard to see what God’s plan has been. I fully suspect/expect that there will be many people who will have a hard time seeing God’s hand in this. It’s there. His hand is in everything.

Remember a guy by the name of Noah? God told him to build a boat. Not just a boat but an absolutely huge boat. Oh and he built it in the desert. Did Noah see what God’s plan was? Nope, I don’t think so.

But Noah trusted God and did what God called him to do.

How’d that work out for him?


P.S. I only told you one of the two things. I ran out of time and out of space to do it justice.