As we begin our third week of staying at home, I’ve noticed that our days are falling into a pattern and we’re adjusting to the smaller scope of our world.
I’ve also noticed that this is truly a situation in which attitude is everything, and while my children are old enough to be a part of the adult conversations and decisions that surround living through a global pandemic, we all seem to feel better when we focus on the positive.
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, when you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. James 1:2-3
In an effort to share some of the shifts in perspective I’ve experienced over the past weeks, today I’m sharing some of the challenges we face and how I’ve chosen to think of them as blessings instead.
Challenge: We’re stuck at home
Blessing: We’re safe at home
Now that I’m over my cold that lasted for three weeks (!), our home is a haven. It’s (moderately) clean, completely disinfected, and all of my favorite people and pets are in it now that my kids are both finishing their semesters online.
Challenge: There’s nothing to do
Blessing: There’s nothing to do
This one is harder for my extroverted daughter than it is for homebody me, but I have really started to enjoy the slower pace. In the space of a few days, my entire calendar was erased–meetings, work deadlines, appointments, even lunch and dinner gatherings. We’ve filled our free time with reading, music (piano and guitar), board games, puzzles, conversation, movies and TV, and exercise (I’ve had to give Harley more food to make up for all the walks he’s going on right now!).
Also, can we all just recognize what a huge blessing it is to be stuck at home with electricity AND WiFi? My daughter and I were remembering how after the last few hurricanes there were days and days without air conditioning and WiFi, and let me tell you, that was a lot less fun than this. This I can do!
Challenge: It’s hard to find items we need at the stores
Blessing: We still have everything we need
I’ve had a hard time finding toilet paper, too. Remember my Facebook post about going to nine stores to find it, coming home and buying a bidet? Other hard-to-find things around here include chicken, ground beef, cold and flu medications, hand sanitizer, and pretty much all paper products.
However, we still have everything we need.
There’s enough in my pantry and freezer for us to live on for weeks and weeks, and I’ve enjoyed getting creative with my cooking (see our 2-week recipe plans here and here). We usually do this kind of cooking to empty the pantry and freezer right before we move, anyway, so we just started a month or two earlier than we would have otherwise.
I found myself a little annoyed the other day because an item I ordered from Amazon was going to take a few weeks to arrive and I had to check myself–what a blessing to still be able to have almost anything under the sun delivered right to my front door by Taylor, our awesome mail lady!
Challenge: My husband is working super long days
Blessing: My husband has an income
This is an easy one; I can’t imagine that anyone’s complaining about long hours right now because so many of our friends have lost their jobs or have had their hours and income cut dramatically.
My income is directly tied to advertisers and stores spending money on advertising, which of course they’re not doing at all right now, but years ago we went through Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University (he’s currently offering it for free for two weeks here) and it changed the way our family handles money. It’s an incredible blessing during a time like this to have an emergency fund, and still be able to give to our church and support local businesses and charities. This might not be the situation that you’re in today, but things are going to get better again, and it’s never too late to start to budget, live within your means, save, and give!
Challenge: The economy is a wreck
Blessing: American businesses are rising to the occasion
Like so many of you, we have retirement accounts and college funds for the kids, and it’s a slightly nauseating experience to look at them right now. Jobless claims are through the roof. How quickly things change; just a month ago we were enjoying the best economy ever.
However, if you’re hunting the good, there is SO much of it to find right now! Businesses are shifting production to make PPE, ventilators, and test kits. Stores have closed but are still paying their employees. Businesses that are open and busy are hiring like crazy and raising wages. Progress on treatments and a vaccine is moving more quickly than expected. Charities are mobilized and on the ground in areas like New York and Italy. I’m reminded of the national response during World War II, and it’s so encouraging.
I couldn’t be prouder of America’s response to this crisis.
Challenge: People in our community are hurting
Blessing: People in our community are helping
We love our small town; it’s full of wonderful local business and restaurants and sometimes it feels like everybody knows everybody else. It’s hard to see our neighbors hurting, but I’ve been encouraged to see so many who are willing to help.
Our town started a huge and active Facebook group that shares restaurants who are doing curbside pickup and delivery. We rarely eat out during “normal” times, but have cut spending elsewhere so that we can buy takeout twice a week to support our local restaurants while they’re closed. I will need bigger pants soon!
Many of our local stores are offering shipping and delivery while closed to customers so we’re still able to support them. Our local farmers are about to start delivering our CSA boxes and I am counting the days.
Our local stores are supporting the effort, too:
With school out for so long, kids who are food insecure and depend on school meals are at risk. If their parents can’t get to the local pickup locations, our community has started a volunteer effort to deliver their lunches and dinners. Local restaurants contribute to this effort, too:
Challenge: Church is canceled
Blessing: Church isn’t a building
Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Romans 12:12-13
Our church canceled services three Sundays ago and I expect that will extend through April (we’re in North Carolina). Fortunately, we can access services online and in between YouTube, podcasts, and music, we’re still able to worship. I also have more time in my day to read my Bible and pray, which definitely helps me cultivate the blessings over challenges mindset, and I signed up for a daily text with a pandemic-related prayer request.
Thankfully, church isn’t a building, and right now there are still opportunities to “be the church” even with closures and limited social contact. We’re delivering Meals on Wheels and the above-mentioned school lunches, picking up groceries for our neighbors, and making sure that our local charities are well stocked with food and donations. Teenagers and college students are helping to watch kids whose parents are critical workers. There are opportunities to serve almost everywhere I look, and as my mother always said, it’s really hard to feel sorry for yourself when you’re helping someone else.
Tip: If you’re interested in what the Bible teaches about plagues and pestilence, check out Joel Rosenberg’s site–his books are great, too!
Challenge: Gyms/yoga studios/dance studios are closed
Blessing: The outdoors remains open
The dance studio being closed is a big deal for my daughter as she suddenly just got about 20 hours of her week back–and she’d much rather be busy! They’re doing online classes but I will say that we just don’t have the floor space to make it great experience for her, but she’s making it work. We’re also missing our local yoga studio and gyms.
But, the kids and I decided that we can still run and so we’ve started training for a half marathon (the better to combat takeout two times a week); they’re working out at home since the Crossfit gym down the street is loaning out sandbags, medicine balls, and kettle bells; and we’re getting plenty of Vitamin D and fresh air on our runs. The weather has been gorgeous and everything’s blooming.
Challenge: Schools are closed; summer plans are being canceled
Blessing: My kids are safe at home
My son would rather be finishing his sophomore year of college at school instead of online and directing his first play next month. My daughter is crushed that the State Department critical language immersion program in India that she was scheduled to attend this summer has been canceled.
Yet I am grateful that they are home and safe. I’m thankful that they have computers and access to WiFi and can keep up with their school work. We homeschooled for about four years when they were in elementary and middle school and they learned to be very self-disciplined and curious during those years; they might not like their current situation but they understand it and are making the best of it. We recognize their losses but are enjoying these bonus months with them at home.
(A few of you have asked about our move overseas this summer. Military moves are currently on hold for 60 days, but we still have to be ready to go as soon as they give the word. We are well-acquainted with uncertainty after so many years and know it will all work out–we’re just not sure how yet!)
I don’t share all of these things to sound like a Pollyanna, especially when I realize that others are facing much greater challenges than we are. However, I’m supposed to be thankful in all situations and this is the best way I know to make that happen.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7
Stay safe, be encouraged, and thanks for stopping by!