April 1 we learned the news that we would not return to school for the remainder of the school year due to the COVID-19 pandemic sweeping the globe. This news was devastating to hear as we walked into this season on Thursday, March 12 with the hope that we would all just need to lay low for a few weeks and then things could return to “normal”. As always, God is so gracious with His timing. We learned this news on a Wednesday…just days before our scheduled Spring Break was to begin. Our incredible teachers at NCCS had done an amazing job of providing a few weeks of online learning by that point and none of us had any worries about accomplishing academic goals. The concern had already turned to missing out on the key relationship things that make our school family such a special thing to be a part of. We were all grieving the loss of our Spring Term Mission Trips, spring sports, spring concerts…the things that keep us crazy busy in the spring, but have become such a part of “normal” for us. Spring Break provided an amazing opportunity to rest and reflect over this season and to look forward to what God had for us in the weeks and months ahead.
In the midst of all the loss (which was so minor in our context), I’m grateful for the way the Lord turned our attention to what He was doing all around us. I had so many conversations with friends around this question “Is spring always so green and beautiful?” One friend and her family had the privilege of watching a bird build a nest on their porch and then they watched the little bird family for weeks before the baby birds were big enough to fly away and do their own thing. Right at the beginning of the pandemic, our family had 19 trees removed from our yard. During the pandemic, a company came and did some major grading and seeded our yard. That meant that we needed to spend significant time watering the yard each morning. I would get up super early and water the back and side and then Clint would finish up by watering the front and the other side. At first I wondered how we’d fit that in each day. Then, I came to find that time as something I really looked forward to. It was a great time to listen to sermons and other favorite podcasts that I just don’t “normally” have time for. This helped me to set my mind on things above (Colossians 3:2). As the grass came in, I was reminded again that the Lord was working and He was doing a new thing.
With the news that we would finish the year online, our family really settled into a great rhythm of longer unrushed meals, playing outside until dark, sitting and talking with friends (socially distanced where appropriate), reading, listening to…and playing music (Emma and I recorded a Strange Quarantine Album that will never be released), crafting, laughing, resting, etc. We appreciated the routine of school on Monday-Friday to help keep our minds focused. Once school wrapped up on Fridays, we embraced the weekend and just really enjoyed each other’s company. We spent a lot of time transforming the landscaping at our house and that proved to be so rewarding. What a gift to have strong bodies to be able to mulch, prune, and plant things.
Easter this year also ended up being so incredibly special. We have really missed worshipping together with our church family at Cedarcrest. It’s very evident to us now why God’s word reminds us “not to forsake the gathering together” (Hebrews 10:25). This season has given us a chance to worship together as a family. I hope I don’t ever forget how special communion was on Good Friday with just our four in the living room participating in the online service from our church. Easter morning was special and my sweet Eli even obliged my request for him to wear a “handsome” shirt knowing that I wanted a family Easter pic.
We cooked a lot of meals on our outdoor griddle and have really enjoyed Strange Hibachi! We spent the night in the garage one night in tents. The kids have been wanting to camp forever, but the weather was a little unpredictable. We also live right by some train tracks. The train in the middle of the night would likely be pretty startling to someone sleeping outside! The kids thought that camping in the garage was a great treat and when the crazy thunderstorms came through in the middle of the night…we were so glad we had made that choice! Eli loved it so much that we ended up putting the tent in his bedroom for the remainder of Spring Break so he could play, read, and sleep in it. Emma declared, “I’m probably more of a resort girl.” Eli played Beyblades for HOURS. You’ve never really lived until you’ve tried to nap, read, or anything while someone is launching a Beyblade battle…trust me. Emma painted canvases for days and created a Quarantine Gallery that we all enjoyed! Our Chick-Fil-A car picnics continued. Emma dyed her hair pink. We picked up a new game, Acworthopoly that was loads of fun. We made puzzles, sat around the fire pit with friends, and watched a dear friend get married on Facebook live (while eating tacos at the island in our kitchen). We replaced the dining room light, picked flowers from the yard, engaged in a variety of pushup challenges, and just generally enjoyed each other’s company.
As news of COVID-19 continued to swirl, our prayers and thoughts were with those who were struggling with this virus physically, financially, emotionally. The ripples of this season will continue into many years ahead. We can’t even begin to predict what all the outcomes will ultimately be. We pray for those that are going through hard times and are so grateful for conversations that have happened in this season. Our family is also choosing to celebrate the gift of the extra time together. What a treasure to get to spend this much time together learning and growing together in Christ and as a family with each other and with our friends. God is faithful and He is working!