Like everyone, we are navigating this time of pandemic as best we can. Personally, I’ve had to grow in patience and trust. That has not always come naturally. I can be patient when I know the plan ahead. When I don’t, it’s difficult and challenging. Therefore, as we’ve been self isolated for nearly 6 weeks after our spring break trip to Paris, I’ve tried to consider the blessings this time brings. I realize many unexpected blessings have arisen. I will mention 3 here, plus an add-on.
#1 More intentional time with my family
Many have shared this blessing, as it’s obvious with families sheltered together. As a family unit, we’ve all enjoyed each other. We’ve been intentional over the years to cultivate this. Thankfully, we’ve had few fights, bickering, and minimal tension. It takes intentionality, and the fruit of that effort has been manifested over these weeks. Marriage, on the other hand, takes more work. We will share more on marriage in a future post.
For our family unit, however, whether it’s playing games together (Chess, Scrabble, Yahtzee – and I always try to win), family read-alouds, daily jogs while our boys ride their bikes (a great workout!), or movie nights, we’ve shared more of life’s good gifts. I see the boys’ personalities take shape daily. I notice things that I normally wouldn’t: our oldest’s voice is changing, our middle child is more interactive, our youngest likes to take charge. We cook and clean dishes together. We eat dinner slowly. We take time to talk about what we learned each day and what is going on in the world. With the schedule of school and work, we don’t always take time to watch and listen to one another. Now we are forced to do so. It is rewarding.
#2 Trusting God’s plan
There is a saying we’ve often heard and shared: live your faith. It becomes a cliche. This time has made me think about that simple statement. Do I live my faith or just use it to encourage others? My faith is centered on the Lord directing my steps. He knows. He is at work in all things. I believe in a big God. It helps me sleep at night and gives me sustenance in my days.
Yet when times like these arise, in the midst of plans to move to a new mission overseas, I wonder what the future holds. Will we be okay? Will we make it? What is God doing here? What is He teaching me in this time? I don’t have those answers. I struggle with not knowing. Therefore, I have to do as I say – to live my faith. This has grown my patience and trust, believing there are no accidents, and that God will shepherd us. He will provide. It’s hard when you don’t immediately see it or know how everything will play out. My trust is growing, and I am shaped to trust in His providence and provision, however it comes, whatever it resembles.
#3 Saying Goodbye
Before COVID-19, we were preparing to say goodbye to the people and place we’ve called home in Mississippi for 16 years. I was at peace with it. Now, with COVID-19, it’s made the reality of a future goodbye more difficult, yet also a little easier day by day. What I mean is, I felt these upcoming weeks or months would have been an opportunity to say goodbye to individuals, families, and a church we’ve served. Because of this new world, everything has changed.
It certainly isn’t about me, or us, or making this move. Many are struggling: job insecurity, health insecurity, financial insecurity, what the coming months will bring. As best as I can state, saying goodbye becomes difficult in such a time. There’s simply a much bigger picture and perspective at play. And yet, I’ve realized this makes it easier. Because there is a bigger picture and perspective at play.
Not being able to see everyone, not being able to do my daily routine: going to church, leading services, teaching at school, being part of the places I’ve sat, visited, and dined in for the last several years, I’ve begun to put them behind and move forward on the newness of what’s to come. I think more about the places and people that lie ahead. I anticipate and look forward to them. I haven’t closed the door on our life in the here and now. But being absent from it has made the future more present. It’s made the final goodbyes that loom easier.
A Final Blessing
My final blessing, I state it as a plus to the other three, is living day by day, week by week, enjoying the present for the blessing it gives. I look around my house more, thinking of time and memories we have had here. I look deeper into streets, neighborhoods, and the beauty of nature around us. I try to take it all in, absorb it, contain it, as I know I won’t have it long. In our lives, we allow ourselves to think that such things are forever, eternal. The truth is they aren’t, upcoming move or not. We only have today. And today can be enough. All too often, I’ve lived in the past or the future, missing out on the present. This time is pushing me inward, to the here and now, to what is most important, to whom is most important, and to whom it is that directs our steps. For these blessings, I am thankful.
As an introvert, I like to relax and unwind by myself. All of that has disappeared. I am with my children 24/7. I have spent more quality time with my husband than ever before, aside from a sabbatical in 2017. For some women, I am sure they are easily adjusting to this new schedule. For me, it’s been a struggle to find rhythms. Below are my unexpected blessings.
Why is this an unexpected blessing? I have a very hard time unwinding from my day. I don’t gravitate towards the typical vices (alcohol, nicotine, binge watching TV) and gave up my former vices (comfort eating, internet scrolling), so it’s been a challenge to just relax! Perhaps by luck or chance, I found an Agatha Christie Marple series on Hulu where I get to solve a mystery while transporting myself in a worldview that feels stable and just and uncannily honest about human depravity.
Set in the newly modern era between World War 1 and World War II, I love seeing orderly rituals. Here we are, intimately connected by digital technology yet feeling so lost, and I watch women wearing gloves, using calling cards, and scheduling high tea time. Like Downton Abbey, I think we crave regularity and familiarity and face-to-face interactions in the post-modern era. I am not desiring to wear a dress every day, but I do desire a rested sense of stability and order. When I don’t watch a Marple show, I curl up with an Agatha Christie book and dictionary. The British are so orderly even in their writing style and vocabulary. It’s been a great education while unwinding.
What I never anticipated from COVID-19 is the realization that I need to be having more fun with my children. Fun means I don’t multi-task, I don’t have my phone handy, I don’t put off the activity for “another time”, I don’t give a time limit, and I don’t disregard a request, however silly it may seem. I am the master planner and organizer with my children, but I don’t always get messy in the process nor veer too far from an efficiently planned day.
For me to be the fun parent, that means John Hugh has to be the serious, organized one – not his strong suit at home. It’s been an adjustment in marriage, but thankfully, he is up to the task of all the boring duties. I have loved playing a different board game each night, curling up on the sofa with all three kids – even with the disgruntled oldest – and doing a family read aloud that has us laughing, imagining, and asking questions together, making pizzas from scratch (pizza take out is forever banned), watching old episodes of Murder She Wrote or Michael Jordan’s The Last Dance together, scavenging the Disney+ vault for every classic as our lunchtime routine (Beauty and the Beast wins so far), drawing as a family, discussing current events at dinner after our oldest reads a real newspaper, watching The Bible Project and reading my Instagram devotion with my oldest, and much more.
The greatest lesson I am learning is being completely present with my children is the hardest thing to do – and a gift that grows me while nourishing me.
Having Less Housework to Do
Yes, it’s hard to believe, but it took COVID-19 to lessen my workload. Laundry, cooking, setting the table, making beds, cleaning bathrooms, making breakfast independently, making lunch independently, cleaning the kitchen, taking out the garbage, folding clothes, sweeping, vacuuming, yard work, organizing, and any task I can think of, I am delegating or training. Since we all have more time on our hands, there is no pressure for me to get it done quickly because swim meets, homework, birthday parties, play dates, and ministry appointments seem to take precedent over boring housework – like they should.
But I am so, so thankful for time to train others. It’s a time consuming task, this training, in our household because our middle child with autism has fine motor issues as well. If I take time to help him learn, my other two sneak away. Isn’t that the predicament of a large family? When a parent is focused on one child, the other one, two, or more find a way to play! The biggest help has been John Hugh. Having a spouse finally 100% on the same page about the business of housework & division of labor changes everything. We are far more efficient working together as a family – even our middle one holds his weight. We appreciate each other’s contribution. We have more time for fun together.
Write down – in a journal or on social media – a list of your unexpected blessings from COVID-19. When you flip back a year from now or get a TimeHop reminder, you will see the growth planned for you during this time. Write it down. Share it. Don’t miss the opportunity to grow in self reflection. Memory is deceptive because it is colored by today’s events. – Albert Einstein.
THANKS FOR READING!
Below is a compilation video of our Instagram Stories (March 10-April 2, 2020). We will regularly post videos on our blog. Find more on our social media.
ARE YOU STILL MOVING? YES…
Yes, we are still planning to move to Paris this summer 2020. Thank you to our partners so far! We will be sharing a special post next week. If you are interested in partnering, please join us in our journey today.
Browse our previous posts, share this post, or leave a comment below. Keep following along as we prepare to move to Paris! Don’t forget to subscribe, so you won’t miss our next post.