When we were stationed in Hawaii, I homeschooled for one very, very, very long year. Let’s just say it wasn’t a raving success because I let distractions interfere as much as my kids. This proved especially true with those subjects I didn’t really like — namely, anything involving the left side of my brain.
One thing said more than once by my actual 2008 self to my three young children was, “Hey, y’all, let’s go to the beach and count sea turtles and call it math!” Not surprisingly, my kids were happy to oblige.
But since Jesus loves me, He gifted me with a good local friend on the island who was also a tried-and-true homeschooling mama. She shared her homeschooling smarts and relaxed, yet productive, ways with me, and lo and behold, the kids and I miraculously made it through the curriculum that year.
At that time, I may have been new to homeschooling, but I was an old hat at being a military wife.
Yesterday, a friend and military wife posted something on Facebook along the lines of, “Welcome to the world of having the government ruin your plans.” While the parallel to this current COVID-19 crisis isn’t perfect, military folks are just some of the people who know what it’s like to have their plans derailed with little notice. After all, many a military family has felt the whiplash reality of thinking and preparing they’re moving to one place and finding out last minute they’re moving somewhere else. Or that they’re not moving at all because their military member is deploying. Or maybe they already moved, say, to the East Coast, but all their household goods were inexplicably transported to the West Coast.
In some ways, the world at large is getting a taste of what our military friends have already experienced.
In some ways, those parents overseeing their kids’ remaining school year at home are getting a taste of what our tried-and-true homeschooling friends have already experienced.
A well-known quote by Mr. Rogers says that when the news gets scary, we should look for the helpers. While this COVID-19 crisis is in one way or another new to all of us, some folks have spent a portion of their lives dealing with certain ripple effects it has caused.
Today, I see military families and homeschooling families as two kinds of helpers. If that’s you, might you share a little of what you do to make your world — and this world we find ourselves in these days — spin a little more smoothly within the context of your own personal experiences?
My eyes are always scanning the horizon for ways you and I can see our specific season through the filter of God’s care and provision. I love to write stories — specifically about change — that help you make sense of your own and help you see where you are with more hope and less worry.
In light of this and my history as a military wife, I offer you this bit of encouragement within the context of this verse from Acts:
From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live.
Acts 17:26 (NIV)
Military families accept that God chooses their location, not Uncle Sam. But all of us, regardless of how often we’ve physically moved locations, are living in a new location of sorts right now. It’s also good to remember the Lord has determined this time for you to be where you are. And while we may all feel like this virus and all its ramifications came straight out of left field for us, the Lord saw it coming, and He will see you and I to the other side of it.
These are foreign feeling days to be sure. So, we rest in the facts of our faith, that God has gone ahead of us and will lay out a way for each of us to make it through. At the same time, He’s with us as we walk this foreign land.
As with any change, the change isn’t the end. God’s grace and goodness are. As we live and move within unprecedented times, may God’s grace and goodness show up for us in unprecedented ways too. And may our eyes be open to the many, many helpers God graciously provides along the way.
As we live and move within unprecedented times, may God’s grace and goodness show up for us in unprecedented ways too. -@Kristen_Strong: Click To Tweet Leave a Comment
Bev @ Walking Well With God says
I love the verse you quoted about God already determining our times and places where we will live. How comforting that He always goes before us. The change that came with COVID-19 made me squirm, at first, under the newness and uncertainty of it all. I’ve found, however, that as time has gone on I’ve got to enjoy lunches with my husband. We’ve been able to take some long walks together and have enjoyed a glass of wine or s’mores around the fire pit. There has been goodness and for that I am so grateful. For others, in our world, the change has been devastating – like for the children aided by the non-profit I head up. Christians are still being persecuted in this dark country by being denied aid so we’ve been doing our best to step in to provide food and humanitarian aid. If you are sitting comfortably and want to help someone who isn’t, I invite you visit our website: redeemerinc.org. Thank you….stay safe and remember Easter is STILL coming!
Kristen Strong says
Such encouraging words here, Bev. I’ll be checking out your link, too. Love you!
Michele Morin says
If nothing else comes of this pandemic, I hope we ‘re all getting grounded in the truth of God’s sovereignty! I love Piper’s words, reminding me that God is stronger than COVID-19 and could stop it, and since he does not, his grace will sustain us through it.
Blessings to you!
Kristen Strong says
“His grace will sustain us through it.” Amen.
Thanks for these thoughts, Kristen. We homeschooled for 25 years. While we felt called by God to do so, and had time to prepare for it, I believe I can share a couple of things that could be helpful. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6. Ask Him for wisdom and help each day. If you don’t already enjoy a time of family worship, start now. The spiritual growth you can witness in your children is greatly encouraging. Find good heart-pumping songs on YouTube for PE. I like TruStory, Go Fish and DCC Discipleland. If everything seems to be falling apart in your day, sit down with your children and read aloud or play a game. Teach them that God has given us this unique time to use for His glory. Believe that you can trust God with your children. Brainstorm about how you can share His love with your neighbors. Praying for you all!
Kristen Strong says
GOLDEN thoughts here, Sherrill. Thank you so much for sharing! (And my kids used to love Go Fish! I haven’t thought about them in a long time. What good memories.)
Haha! Just last night I was mentioning to my daughter that while this current place we are in has not been my favorite (I moved in a year ago needing a bigger place than my last one), God apparently knew I’d need to be here during this very time of COVID19 sheltering. It is conveniently located across the street from a huge wild space with trails and within a five minute drive of three more much less frequently used trails than others in the Denver/Boulder area (which are apparently super crowded -which is not good- in other areas nearby). All of these trails grant me a splendid view of the Rockies for my jogs. I have been SO GRATEFUL for this at this time. So, God knew what I would need and provided well ahead of time. 🙂
Kristen Strong says
Oh wow–sounds like you found a real diamond in the rough! All the praise hands for those times when God gives us what we need before we know we need it. xo
Dawn Ferguson-Little says
God will and can always make us feel at ease even in this Coronavaries. Even when it all over. No matter what side of planted we live on. God is there. I believe God is doing this to make us seek him more in getting back to basics. Being the Christians he made us to be. The Church too the world. Not thinking the Church is the fancy building we go once a week when this all over to get a nice sermon told by or Salvation Army Officer Pastor or Ministor. Thinking that will do us. Untill next week when we go back. We are the Church. The Church is us the saved. We are as God help us face the changes today.
Being a Christian is not just going to Church on Sunday. I heard a good one. Going to McDonald’s for burger does not make you Christian any more than going to Church on a Sunday make you a Christian. We have start getting into Gods word the Bible standing on the Promises in it and Prayer everyday not just in the times we live in today to do with the Coronavaries. Show God Love to the world start being the Church to the world. By Loving people no one else would Love. Saying thank you to the Doctor for making you well. Say can I help you if that mum with a baby or toddler needs help if you can help them by opening the door for them in shop if got a pram with a baby or toddler. Don’t walk on passed them. Or you see a person who cannot reach something in a shop even if elderly in a shop get something down of the shelf. Go over say nicely would you like me to take that down for you. Even in the day we are in and when it over. I remember going for Hospital appointment the Doctor doing the test. Looking at me. Stopping with shock. Did you just say thank you. I said yes. That Doctor was in shock because people hardly ever say thank you. For him being so kind and treating them to try and find out what wrong with them so nicely. I said I was brought up with manners. They mean alot. You where so kind to me. Thank you goes along way I told him. That Doctor said many just get the treatment and leave. Say when will I hear my results. That is why I was shocked to hear you say thank you. See God can see the changes we face. Look at how that day I changed that Doctors day. With a simple word. Just saying Thank you. How God used my thank you that day to make that Doctors day a better day and Ease his day. I went away with a smile on my face. Said than you God. I made that Doctors day by making him smile. All because I said thank you for him being so kind to me. God is so good. Love Dawn Ferguson-Little xxxx
Kristen Strong says
You’re so right–there’s such power in gratitude, especially during times like these. xo
As a retired homeschool mama, having done 22 years with our 4 kids, I think I can safely speak for all of us who’ve lived that lifestyle, in saying none of us stepped into it because we felt up to the task. Most if not all, felt in over our heads, and truly were in over our heads. We could only ‘do it’ by the grace of God, day in and day out, as we trusted him to take our small fish and loaves of bread, our mustard-seed sized faith in what we were doing and in the process, and making much of it as only He could do! In this COVID crisis, we all are in over our heads, probably more than we care to admit. Many are trying to carry on as usual, likely in a subconscious effort to still feel in control. This is a human response; I get it. But similar to what you’ve said Kristen, about the ‘unprecedented times’ (which they are, in our lifetimes, at least): I’m praying “May we as all people on planet Earth turn to unprecedented prayer” ~ acknowledging this is a big deal and a big opportunity to see God’s goodness come through the brokenness our world is experiencing! We really can’t get through this without God, nor should we try to. I hope that your dear friend’s comment wasn’t intended the way it may sound. Not being a military wife, I have no experience with that lifestyle when the government could ‘ruin plans’ . With this pandemic, surely she isn’t meaning the government is ruining our plans… this coronavirus is certainly ruining our plans, but the governments’ levels of imposing restrictions on us is for our protection and the good of all people. I was amazed recently as I worked through my daily Bible plan, going through Leviticus and Numbers, at the relevance of what is said even then, about God’s plan for contagions, unclean-ness, social distancing, isolating, etc. And that was to protect his people! Scripture also teaches us that our plans need to be held loosely, not knowing what may come out of left-field so to speak… not unbeknownst to God, but that which we can’t see or imagine coming that has enormous power to ruin our plans. There’s so much to learn and take hold of in this very unique time!! May we look to Him so we won’t miss the point, His point, in all of this ~ may we know our need and find it in Him.
Kristen Strong says
Oh yes, Margo, she used the word “government,” but she simply meant “life circumstances that the government responds to.” Ruined or changed plans can still be for our good yet require some major adjustment. That, too, is what military families have experienced before the last month. When I wrote this 3 weeks ago, everything had just come to a grinding halt. That was a good, necessary decision (as are all the more recent changes as well), but one that can leave us feeling a little whiplash, even as we also hold onto the knowledge that God works through ruined and changed plans (thankfully)!
And I’ll be carrying your phrase, “unprecedented prayer for unprecedented times” with me today. Thank you, Margo!
Beth Williams says
I’ve been pondering if God intended this pandemic for our world. He knew it would slow us down & force us to be together more. We as a nation are turning to God substantially than ever before whilst He has always been wooing us back to Him. Now is the time for families to really stop & talk face to face. Getting to know each other better. Take the time to read Bible & pray. We know from reading Bible that God always makes a way out of trouble. He lead the Israelites with a pillar of clouds by day & a fire by night. Knowing He doesn’t change-He is still doing that. He will see us through this dark valley & Sunday (resurrection) will come. In this pandemic I pray you see God’s grace & goodness show up in unexpected ways.
I agree that question has to be on so many minds at this time. As I mull it over, my best effort at a ‘conclusion’ is that no, I don’t believe a deadly and very contagious virus would be his intention. His intention was never for disease. (Bear with me, as I ponder this out loud.) But as with all sin, brokenness, defilement of that which was perfect, disease and death, God’s redemptive plan is in motion, and he does use all of it ~ often especially the most difficult things ~ to woo us to himself, especially when we have wandered away from his love and one another’s love, or become complacent. I have been working through a program in spiritual direction, and in a recent study on the meaning of sin, I was led in the end to base my response on this theme: that the meaning of sin through God’s lens, is that it be used for good. To bring about good where harm was intended. To let it make us aware of our need for Him, and to turn to Him, return to Him. The things you mention, like family dinners, prayer, slowing down all would presumably be his will for us, but we might have to be forced to make such abrupt changes. Would we go against the current and do it otherwise? As a society? I doubt it. So, in his mercy, he allows sin and brokenness and disease to remind us of many truths, even that life is fragile, that we are to cherish it and cherish one another, cherish Him. There is now a slowing and a reconnecting with home and family. But there is so much more going on; thousands on this planet are losing their lives, their loved ones of all ages. I’m sure God doesn’t want us to take life for granted, and in that there is (I believe) so much to be learned, restored, gained, throughout this time. I do believe it is being used as a wake-up call. I’ve been pondering this question, so thanks for reading and allowing me to process it along with you!! I agree with all that you’ve said and join you in your prayer. May we have the eyes to see Him present and active in our midst. Blessings!
Susan G. says
Thanks for this Kristen. I love reading your encouraging words with a tall bit of humorous wit!
I absolutely love this verse in Acts! I came upon it several months back and had forgotten it. Thanks for bringing it to the forefront of my mind once again.
May you all have a fabulous Resurrection Day!
He is Risen!