Well, hello there friends! For awhile now I’ve been debating and haven’t written because it seemed like the obvious thing to write about was the Coronavirus, and I really didn’t want to write about that. It seemed like there was already so much noise surrounding the outbreak and an absolute avalanche of articles, news stories, posts and videos to process, so I didn’t want to add one more to that staggering number.
But as it happens, with the enforced quarantine, it is pretty much inevitable that I’m going to write about it, because I claimed to want to write about my life, and hey! That’s just what life is right now!
Here in our little world, it has almost been a blessing to have an enforced “time out”. Now, I am a stay at home mom, so really the only things that look different are having one kid instead of two like normal workdays, not being able to get my own groceries (I am that weirdo that actually likes to grocery shop…), and having our few outings and play dates taken away. BUT with all of that, we have really taken this time to settle into our little home and are exploring life here in a new season, our first spring in our own house. (As a sidenote, I know that we are blessed to so far be unaffected by the virus itself – our prayers are with those that are fighting it as well as those in the medical field! I don’t ignore the seriousness of what is happening across the globe, but can only write about what I know personally, which at this time is just our quarantine.)
Before this whole thing began, I read Present over Perfect by Shauna Niequist, and had just begun When Less is More by Emily Ley – it was almost coincidental that the things that resonated with me from those books became the things that were forced upon us by the quarantine. Simpler is better. Less is more. Filtering out noise and distraction and constant occupation. Quieting the technology in our lives. Focusing on family, being present and undistracted. Being mindful of luxuries that had become givens and giving thanks daily for the blessings that we often ignore.
In our culture, we have become so dependent on our things, our conveniences, our ease, our entertainment, our businesses, our schedules, and our productivity that we are simply vibrating with life and noise and movement constantly. There is no rest, there is no simplicity, and if there is, those things are almost frowned upon and deemed archaic.
Right now, I am writing this from my chair with the spring breeze blowing the curtains around. The sun is making slatted lines across the floor, the daffodils are blowing gently outside my window and I can smell the beautiful smell of someone cutting the first spring grass. I hear wind chimes and birds and the wind in the trees, watching as it sends showers of pink cherry blossom petals careening around the neighborhood. That is beautiful. ALL of it. And how often do we miss these gifts to the senses because we are listening to a podcast, rushing through a to-do list, watching mindless television, or just too busy to look?
This quarantine has helped me reevaluate my whirlwind of busy, of schedule and rigidity, of constant productivity and motion, of over-connection due to technology and social media, and I am making more of an effort to be more present, more relaxed and more able to appreciate, and seek out, simplicity and the blessings that are overflowing in my life.
Before the coronavirus hit, I also had just completed a devotional based on the book by Jennie Allen, entitled Get Out of Your Head. Along with some other studies on toxic thoughts, and taking your thoughts captive, I feel like this too was just a practice run for the real thing! When things like quarantine and questionable income and health concerns hit, we seriously have a choice in how it plays out in our lives. We can allow fear and anxiety to control us, or we can control them. We have to make the conscious choice to believe what we say we believe, which is that God is in control, that He loves us and is caring for us, no matter what the state of the world looks like. He said that the world is sinful and broken and would have times of craziness and disease and famine – He declared that it WOULD happen. But what we can declare right back in the face of widespread chaos is that our God is King of All, and that we shall not fear because He is with us (Isaiah 41:10). That He is working all things out for our good (Romans 8:28). That He is in control of the heavens and the earth (Acts 17:24). That He cares for us more than sparrows and lilies (Matthew 10:28-29, Luke 12:27-32). When life gets nuts, the rubber of your faith hits the road – speak life and speak truth and allow it to return to you as a blessing in the form of God’s peace. Proverbs 18:21 says that the power of life and death are in the tongue, so why not speak life? Why not declare faith in the God who is in control? You’re listening and others are listening and that declaration alone can give you the strength to battle what is coming.
The final thought that I wanted to share with you comes from a special announcement we made just yesterday – we are expecting our second child! We couldn’t be more excited, and I absolutely cannot wait to meet this little miracle that God is creating for us!…and yes, that is one more reason I am actually embracing this time of slowness and forced rest!!
But along with the excitement, any moms out there may agree with me that it seems like the first trimester is the absolute hardest. That first few months feels very lonely – for most people, you aren’t actively sharing the news with others yet, and so you’re “forced” to share with God (and your spouse) alone. In normal pregnancies, there are a lot of unknowns, and “wait and see’s”, but for those of us with different health issues that have caused us to lose other pregnancies in the past, it can be a period of time that feels never-ending and full of questions and fears and a heavy mental load that you are left to bear alone. Those things can either put you in a tailspin of doubt and fear and set you on a mental rollercoaster, or they can grow your faith and allow the beauty of God’s peace to grow in you right along with your baby. It is a difficult choice that I have had to make every single day, but having faith in God is truly the only thing that has brought me peace in this time!
I have always loved the verse in Luke where it talks about the spectacular events surrounding the birth of Jesus, and how the others were talking of what had happened, but it says that “Mary kept all of these things and pondered them in her heart” (Luke 2:19). I wish I were more like Mary, but I am a 1000% a talker — that’s how I process things, and if I don’t, then they often just spin around in my head until they have grown beyond all bounds of reason. That is another reason why the first few months of pregnancy are difficult for me – because it leaves me alone in my thoughts! But something special has happened this pregnancy – instead of stewing in my own brain, I have been actively taking it all to God first and foremost, before talking even with my husband about my thoughts or fears. God has met me there, reinforced His peace in my heart, and allowed me to break the cycle of fearsome thoughts and all-consuming worries. Now, while I certainly think its wise to get trusted input and godly counsel from other believers, I feel like our priority should always be to get alone with God first and talk. And to hide those deep spirit things in your heart until God allows you to process them. And grow. And change. And learn to allow God, the one who created your mind and heart and spirit, to lead you to wisdom and peace, in pregnancy as well as all other areas of life!
All of these things have combined during this time to solidify for me the things that are important in life – God, faith, family, home, strong community and simplicity. I want to keep this perspective, this pace and this focus on the goodness of life. I want to stop comparing my calm to others’ crazy and feel like somehow they are doing it better. I want to recapture the joy of life and to allow my senses to absorb the absolute beauty of this world. I want to focus on the things that bring wellness to my family and my own body, spirit and mind and stop striving towards anything else. I want to go to God first and foremost with anything that crosses my mind and allow Him to change me and uphold me with His strength. I want to remember that simpler is better, home and family are some of my greatest blessings, and that God is in control of it all!
I pray that this quarantine changes you in all the right ways, and that God meets you in it to give you His peace, to remind you of the beauty of slowness, and to speak into the quiet that He loves you just as you are, without any of the extras life says we need. This time will be over before we know it, but I pray it is not wasted!