Day 291 December 29th

It has been so many days since I have last updated but I have been keeping a running list of events! After school started and we returned to work, things just got quite out of control. In order to stay focused and sane, I decided to take a break from my weekly updates and just jot down significant events and happenings. 

The Lord has taught me so much through the last several months. Things have only gotten harder, as I am sure it has for everyone, but the blessings have also been rolling in. The one thing that remains the same is that we still have the promise of God. As I have mentioned in the past, God never told us that there wouldn’t be storms, but he will see us through it. I heard a teaching on Paul’s journey to Rome on the ship. He must have thought he was heading straight to Rome however there were many storms along the way leading him down a different path before getting to Rome. On the way they were shipwrecked in Malta. While they were there, there was a revival! Other amazing things happened along the way as well and all during the storm. 

God has a plan for us where we are, in this moment, during COVID…don’t lose sight of this!  We may not be where we think we should be but there is something here for us. We don’t have to wait until the end of all of this for great things to happen. I have seen this over the past 8 months. God knows what’s going on even when we don’t. Don’t jump ship- stay on the ship keep your eyes on Christ. Don’t give up! Freaking out isn’t getting us anywhere, take a step back and do something you love and enjoy. Take the time to thank God and focus on what you are grateful for. Even in the most painful season of our lives, God is bringing us safely through the storm. 

I could spend time updating you on all the hardships we have faced in the last several months but I have been practicing choosing joy and focusing on the work the Lord is doing during this time. I do however want you to know that each and everyone one of my family members is struggling. We go in and out of depression, frustration, defeat, fatigue and questioning the purpose of life BUT we are relying on the strength of the Lord to see us through the holiday’s (the hardest time yet with not seeing family) and get us to 2021 where we might feel some relief all while seeing what He has for us in the midst of this all.

At the end of summer we were able to allow Addie to participate in a youth group which was being held outdoors, she also went to her own sleepover! (Both of these new territories resulted in us adding a line for a family phone:)) We also ventured out to the Farmer’s market and did go into a couple of stores. We had some outdoor visits with family and Parker and Aaron were able to go on their annual father/son camping trip with Aaron’s friends. While the boys did that, us girls were able to have a weekend with my sister and their cousins. This was such a special time. 

I have been able to keep up with my daily workouts and runs, in all the beautiful seasonal changes, including completing a COVID Spartan Challenge. I have also achieved many personal bests! I also reconnected with an old college friend and we have been walking every few weeks. I have loved refocusing on this relationship. 

We continued .99 cent cones at TCBY on Wednesdays and did a couple more bike rides to Starbucks with my cousin. And as we annually do, we were able to get the free starbucks cup to bring in the holiday season!

 As a family we went pumpkin and apple picking and decorated for fall and carved pumpkin. The kids and I had a crazy adventure downtown on scooters, which resulted in bloody knees. I was able to meet up with my mom in a nearby town and walk with her and the kids got some special donuts from her from my hometown. Parker found some fun of his own when he discovered the girl’s play makeup…enough said! 

We have developed some new traditions during this time as well. We started up parent/kid time each night. Most days we spend about 10 minutes with each kid alone and do whatever they want to do.  As a result of this parker and I have a record of bouncing the exercise ball back and forth to each other a whopping 1,360 times, some incredible snapchat pics, and lots of made up games including tennis with two fly swatters and a ping pong ball. 

Also, as a result of having SO much time together, I suggested we start “Free For All Fridays”. This is just as it sounds! We all get to do whatever (within reason) we want at home for the entire evening. This includes me not having to make dinner. We order out and enjoy just totally flaking and doing what we enjoy with no obligation to each other. I have to say, it is one of the best ideas I have had…ever! 

Parker has lost a few teeth, as did Addie and Aaron did as well after getting his wisdom teeth pulled and I had an old root canal repared. Needless to say our dental benefits are maxed! On top of our teeth needs, the kids all got glasses! Two of my children were actually excited about this…and the other not so much.

We have also been able to be quite productive. We have completed many house projects. Aaron and I came up with a “work” schedule to accomplish our goals of getting his YouTube channel launched and me completing my Personal Training certification. I am happy to say that Aaron’s channel is doing great and I am now a certified personal trainer. Parker has many videos made for his channel but his editors (Aaron and I) are slacking at getting those uploaded. 

As December rolled around the fun was ramped up! We had bonfires…in December!  Lots of “healthy” and unhealthy treats, our first snow of the season, traditional tree cutting and day after Thanksgiving Christmas decorating, sugar cookie decorating, dress up days at work, hot chocolate bar, multiple Christmas movies, a new addition to our family, Baby Yoda, Christmas pj’s, toys and of course lost of talk and worshiping of the savior who was born so he could die for us so we could spend eternity with Him, JESUS! 

It is amazing to see all of God’s blessings weaved into the last several months. When we are in the thick of things, it is so hard to see but God really is doing wonderful things! 

As far as Covid is concerned, it seems there have been constant updates and changes to guidelines. Pretty much our whole state was in the red causing us to tighten up regulations again. We are still required to wear masks. The number of cases are still high and deaths are increasing as well. There are now a couple of vaccines that are being distributed. We are in the very beginning stages of this and it could still be a long road.

We are now on Christmas break but this semester we had several quartentines, close co-workers who were frighteningly sick, we had a switch to virtual learning around Thanksgiving and then returned to end out the semester. Then toward the start of Christmas break, a flow of employees began to get sick and I ended up being the only counselor in guidance for the last week before break. That was a very challenging but honoring experience!  

During the worst of the COVID season, Starbucks restricted their hours, we had a quarantined Halloween even though the city still had trick or treating hours. We had another quarantine birthday. Parker and I were quarantined again due him being a direct contact, even though it was rough working from home again, Parker and I had this special time of bonding and he was able to do school work dressed as Iron Man!  We all got new facemasks, which is sad yet exciting at the same time and sadly my cousin and I made the decision to do our workouts on Facetime each day rather than in person due to the rise of cases BUT we are so grateful for this option! 

Aaron and I still feel that being home as much as possible is the best choice for our family for a variety of reasons so there is the fall out of that with the kids. We celebrated Thanksgiving almost a month early with Aaron’s family as we could see the writing on the wall for the fall/winter season. We did not participate in any family gatherings for Christmas and do not plan to for New Years. We are home ALL THE TIME, other than work. The kids get tired of each other and we have to get creative with things to do but looking back on our pictures and memories, we have done a pretty good job of this! Through the tears, we have small bouts of joy and fun memories. One of the greatest gifts of COVID thus far is the bond we have been able to build with the kids and with Aaron and me.  There has never been a time in our marriage or since having kids that we have been able to spend so much time together and most likely we will never have this opportunity again. I have never had the opportunity to minister to my children and have as deep of conversations as I do now with them. I am forever grateful for this silver lining. 

Final thoughts and challenge: As you reflect on this past year, try to make the choice to look at the blessings that have come your way. It is so easy, especially this year, so see the pain and suffering we have gone through but I believe there is healing in finding things that we are grateful for. Remember, as much as we want to race through this dreaded storm, to take a step back and find what God has for you in this moment. What can you do now, rather than waiting to get to the other side of this? What are you grateful for this year? 

In reflecting on this blog and in looking for ways to better document my experience and capture what God is teaching me I have made the decision to roll over to more of a vlog/podcast/YouTube type of platform.  This is something I have been praying about and I am excited to see what God has in store! My goal is to roll this out at the very first of the year! 

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