(Jordan should have been spending her final semester as a freshman at Liberty University these past few months. Instead she has been attending online classes from her home near Lancaster, Pennsylvania.)
If you’re anything like me—constantly wanting to know what people are up to—quarantining may be a bit of a challenge for you, as we are not able to catch up or hang out with our family and friends face-to-face. I hope, then, that this blog post is a fun read for you, because I have asked several family members (both church and biological) and friends to unpack their quarantine schedules. Hopefully, reading their stories will not only satisfy your curiosity, but also motivate you to check up on your own family and friends to see what they’re doing.
Bonnie and her family attend my home church, and she and her husband lead the young adults’ group, of which I am a member. Here’s how she described her daily life while homebound:
I am a wife and mother of four children, ages ranging from seven to 15. I do not work outside the home, so being home during the quarantine is not a change for me. Having my husband here is also something I was used to, since he has worked from home for the past five years. The biggest change is having my kids home all day because of school closures, and all their after-school activities grinding to a sudden halt. So far, I have enjoyed having the kids home and am not in any hurry to return to life as it was, just yet.
My mornings have been more relaxed during the quarantine. I get up, grab a cup of coffee, and head back to the chair in my room where I sit and have “quiet time” with the Lord—reading Scripture, meditating or memorizing, and praying. Because I don’t need to pack lunches or drive the kids to school, I don’t need to watch the time, and just end when I end. Sometimes I find myself leaving my chair hours later. I’ve felt at peace through the pandemic, and I have to think that is due to the time I spend in God’s Word, which reveals to us that He is Sovereign over the coronavirus, and is our refuge who we can hide ourselves in (through His Word and prayer).
“ I’ve felt at peace through the pandemic, and I have to think that is due to the time I spend in God’s Word ”
His promises give us hope and peace during this time of uncertainty. He says He is the resurrection and the life, and if we believe in Him, though we die, yet shall we live. So, I don’t have to fear death. And He rules over it all. Lamentations 3:37-38 says, “Who has spoken, and it came to pass, unless the Lord has commanded it? Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that good and bad come?” When the Lord commands bad things to happen, there must be purpose in it. We can’t understand His ways because He is far above our understanding; but we can trust in His purpose, for He is good and He is love. I believe my faith has been impacted by the quarantine, mostly because I’ve had more time to sit and learn from Him each morning.
After my morning quiet times, my daily routine involves checking that my kids are doing their online schooling, making myself available for any help they might need, and keeping up with the daily chores such as dishes, laundry, cleaning and making meals. I’ve been taking advantage of having my kids here to help me with the chores, and many times have one or two of them working alongside of me in the kitchen. We go on family walks most afternoons, and hang out together in the evenings, either watching a movie or playing a game.
Although this is a time of fear and uncertainty for many, I have been at peace so far, and will probably even look back on these days with fond memories of spending quality time with my family.
“ Quarantine has become a refreshing and insightful time. ”
The next story comes from a friend of mine, Evangeline (her name has been changed). I met her through homeschooling—we were in the same homeschool co-op—and she is a senior in high school. This is what she said:
When I heard we were to be quarantined for weeks or more I was devastated. Between sports activities, senior year plans, and a mission trip being cancelled I thought that quarantine was just bad news. However, honestly quarantine has become a refreshing and insightful time. I have even mused that I will actually miss being quarantined when my busy schedule returns to normal. As a social person, I miss humanity of course but I have become so much closer to my family out of necessity. We have made so many good memories together that would otherwise have been lost. We have bonded together during this time which is a huge positive that has come from this quarantine.
Not only has our family bonded together but our community and church family has as well. It's funny how distance can make us closer than ever before. Through phone calls and gifts, we have blessed each other.
A recent “quarantine story” actually occurred yesterday while planning for Mother's Day. I wanted to make sticky buns for my mom for Mother's Day breakfast, however we were out of yeast. My sister and I then spent the next three hours scavenging all the nearby grocery stores searching for yeast. To our amazement, each of the four grocery stores we visited were sold out, and had been for a long time! Further research indicated that the shortage is because of all the baking being done during quarantine. Determined not to give up after all the effort already spent, we reached out to nearby neighbors for help. One of our generous neighbors happily lent us some yeast late at night and carefully placed it in a beautiful bowl. I was touched by her kindness and it was so good to connect with her.
“ Not only has our family bonded together but our community and church family has as well. ”
In America, we are slow to ask for help, to reach out. Independence and individuality are valued more than community. In times like these, however, we see the blessing and value that community really is. The sticky buns turned out great and I can hardly wait to give back to our kind neighbor her beautiful little bowl, replacing its contents of yeast with a warm sticky bun snuggled inside instead. I pray the rest of America will experience and learn the value of community during this quarantine, and that after this time of distance we would be found to be closer than ever.
Another friend of mine, Lydia, is also a senior in public high school. Over Mother’s Day weekend, she went to the mountains for a weekend getaway which she describes as well as what it feels like to miss out on a lot of senior year traditions:
Our grandparents have a cabin, so my family was able to vacation there for a few days. It was a really relaxing weekend, and it was great to be able to spend time with my family! Even with quarantine, we all still have pretty busy schedules and it is hard for us to find a time that works for everybody. We spent our time playing games, hiking, and laughing. It was an amazing getaway!
Also, I am finding that even though I never anticipated missing senior year, (in fact, I couldn't wait for it to be over) missing out on my senior year milestones has been quite disappointing—especially not being able to see my friends and potentially never seeing my teachers again. But I am grateful for the technology that allows us to continue online school and at least communicate in some ways.
“ I pray the rest of America will experience and learn the value of community during this quarantine, and that after this time of distance we would be found to be closer than ever. ”
Overall, I have been keeping busy during quarantine with work, school, chores around the house, preparing for college, and I also have started painting. I am in the middle of many projects for friends and family, and quarantine is turning out to be the perfect time to create them.
A former youth group leader of mine (and now a fellow young adults’ group member!), Elizabeth, offered a look into her quarantine schedule. Elizabeth works in Public Health Research, so she is directly involved with studying and informing the general public about the current pandemic. However, she is also finding time to explore many other interests. Here’s what she had to say:
Fortunately, I have been able to transition my job to be fully remote. I have found it most helpful to keep the same routine with my work hours. I have realized that being especially cognizant about balance between work and life is really important for me, because work is currently the most interesting part of my life right now and can easily take up more time in the evening. However, I'm learning that it's not a sustainable way to approach my work each week when I work for as long as possible each day. Weeks where I'm less balanced in this regard, I've ended up feeling burnt out by Thursday...and one particular week, by end of Tuesday!
“ But I am grateful for the technology that allows us to continue online school and at least communicate in some ways. ”
That being said, I have a greater appreciation for rest—a gift that the Lord has provided to us with the awareness that we, as humans, NEED rest. Most evenings consist of having dinner with my roommate (super thankful for her during this time) and also cooking and baking some meals. We made enchiladas from scratch last week (tortillas and all!). It was fun—and a good way to "rest" from a long week. I also enjoy going on walks, and I try to walk for at least 20 minutes each day to keep active. Recently, I have started doing yoga after discovering a YouTube channel with some great videos that have helped me stay loose and stretch, while breathing and slowing down my thoughts. I like yoga because it is something that I can intentionally do in an awareness of the Lord, my Creator—enjoying a time of stillness with him while simultaneously experiencing the blessing of movement.
It has been really great to have an overall slowing in every aspect of my life—something that does NOT come naturally for me, but at the same time, something that the Lord has continually whispered through his word and way of working over the most recent years of my life. He has broken down this idea that is so rampant in Christian culture and is something I have led myself to believe: that we, as Christians, are really only as much as we can produce (fruit, that is) and the only way to make that happen is to continually do and serve and help and speak—rather than resting and abiding and being with him.
This time where I have been forced to be still has been another reminder that my Lord loves me just as I am; his love doesn’t ebb and flow based on my productivity. I also have loved being able to have more slow time to read his word. I have been reading through Matthew and Acts, and it has been great to just sit and read.
Other fun things I have done during quarantine:
My roommate gave me side bangs!
My roommate dyed my hair
I started a garden
I baked bread
Television – The Crown (on Netflix) currently
100 squats while holding my cat
Zoom calls with youth girls from our church
Throughout the stories I received, there seemed to be one common thread: the chance to slow down and spend more time with the Lord and with family members. So, in an effort to maintain that theme, I thought I would finish off this post with a few stories from my own family.
“ I have a greater appreciation for rest—a gift that the Lord has provided to us with the awareness that we, as humans, NEED rest. ”
My mother described her own quarantine routine succinctly: “It’s rather monotonous,” she said. “I do like being at home, but I do miss being with people outside of the home.”
Like most of us, she has been using her newfound spare time to relax. But for my mother, ever the productive and motivated person, quarantine has been an adjustment. She is one of the busiest people I know, and so she has tried to maintain that during quarantine.
“I’ve gone through all of my cleaning and painting projects and read a lot of books,” she said. And it’s true: I think that about 40% of our house has either been repainted or touched up.
“ My Lord loves me just as I am; his love doesn’t ebb and flow based on my productivity. ”
So what does she like most about quarantine?
“Getting eight hours of sleep per night,” she said with a wry smile. “I’m getting more sleep than I used to!”
For my father and brother, quarantine has been a chance to work on more projects as well—except their projects often take place in our garage as they work on my brother’s dirt-bikes. I have heard lots of tinkering around from them out there, and we have had many a stray part come into our house to be cleaned or otherwise worked on. But I think they have also enjoyed spending more time together as a family. We’ve watched many movies and played numerous rounds of card games together.
“ I think that about 40% of our house has either been repainted or touched up. ”
And, finally, my thoughts on being (generally) housebound: I have mixed feelings. As someone who can self-entertain for hours, I don’t mind it. I also have had the blessing of being able to take summer classes, which help give me an, albeit loose, sense of productivity. But on the other hand, I often find myself feeling lost and purposeless. Usually, at this time of year, I would be transitioning from a busy school schedule to an equally busy summer work schedule. My summer job has been postponed indefinitely, and I find myself wondering—so what now? What do I do with all this time?
And it’s that very same question that leads me to ask: what is my identity outside being a student or employee? When those things are taken away, what (or who) will I turn to in order to find meaning and structure? Does the Lord want me to be so busy, or does He call me to a more relaxed pace of life?
“ He has used this time to bring my attention back to Him. ”
Lately, I find myself grappling with those questions in the extra time I have. And in those times of questioning and doubt, the Lord speaks to me in the sweetest way, reminding me of my identity as His daughter and His role in my life as Heavenly Father. He has used this time to bring my attention back to Him. While I have often had my overwhelming worries and doubts, He consistently calls me to keep my mind “stayed on Him” (Isaiah 26:3). And I have found that is the best remedy to quell the raging fear and anxiety that plague me at times. He will keep me in perfect peace—stayed on Him.