This year has been trying on all of us in ways we could have never imagined.  For me, it has been a roller coaster ride.  I had been working on a business for most of 2019.  The opening was scheduled for April 2020.  Well, let’s just say that it was closed before it ever opened.  The pandemic had other plans for me.  I had felt very led to do the work I was planning for.  I was left floundering around wondering if it had not been God’s plan all along.  I thought I was listening to Him, but obviously He had other plans for me.  We lost two family members this year to Covid-19.  My mother- in- law began a second battle with breast cancer.   Then, I was thrown into the role of teacher for my two youngest children.  I took it all with a grain of salt and tried to get through the new normal.  I like many expected that it wouldn’t last long.  I thought the kids would be back in school in the fall, and I could resume my work.  Well, here we are at the beginning of the second semester of school this year for the kids at home virtually.  They have officially been home with me since March 11th, 2020.   

I have come to realize that in my case God wants me right here where I am.  Things seem to be clearer now.  It’s been so easy to see that if my business had started up, I would not be able to be here for my children and my family.  They need my support now more than ever.  My third grader misses his friends and found it hard to settle into the virtual world.  My first grader only got to go to school for half of his kindergarten year before being home virtually.  He hasn’t had enough time to really learn the skills of how to do school in a regular setting.  He needs my help all day long to navigate the computer and his schoolwork.  My oldest is a junior and is finding it difficult to keep up with his work and find ways to keep his social life safe and fulfilled.  I know I am not alone in this overwhelming feeling that your child’s entire emotional and academic life is on your shoulders.  Not to mention, the housework, feeding the family every day, and trying to get my own work done as well.  I am blessed that my husband’s job has not been affected so, he is still able to go to work.  However, I am alone most of the time with the children.  He has had to pick up overtime to make ends meet.  These trying times must be happening for something, right?   

What if it so simple as to show us what is priority in our lives?   These days people wear their busyness as a badge of honor.  The more they have on the schedule, the more successful they are.  Meanwhile, relationships with your kids, spouse, friends, etc.   are suffering.  Our kids ask us to play with them, and we say no because we are too busy.  Our jobs are our identity, and our popularity with everyone else overshadows the people that mean the most to us.  I know that this time has forced me   to take the time to relax and play.  It has put the people that matter the most to me at forefront of my life where they should be.  It has challenged my faith, and I did not come to this realization right away.  It took me awhile to go to God with all my frustrations.  I felt guilty for feeling upset, because others had and have it way worse.  It wasn’t until I noticed the relationships with my children growing in such a way that is so special that I found the opportunity to change my intentions and find the joy in the way life is right now.   

For the first few months I was gung ho.  I had high expectations of what homeschooling and working would look like.  When it didn’t meet my expectations, I became frustrated.  I have a very dear friend that I talk to nearly every morning for coffee before we start our days.  I noticed a theme in our conversations that would then lean over into the rest of the day.  We would commiserate with each other over how awful our kids were being, how we couldn’t get anything done, and how our houses were a mess.  It was a constant negative complaint fest.  I came to notice that this was affecting my patience with my kids, and my overall productivity of the day.  That was when I looked inward on myself and what can I do with this situation.  What does God want me to do with this situation? 

I decided I needed to refocus my daily intentions and lean on God to help me in those times when I wanted to pull my hair out.  I needed God to work through me to control my patience, and understand that this is not my children’s first choice either.  He has me right where He wants me.  I can choose to dwell in that or make it an experience we can all look back on with some positivity.  The first thing I decided to do was give myself grace.  If the house is a mess, but the kids got what they needed that day, a win!  If I didn’t get a shower until 5pm, but I was able to put in a few hours of work, a win!  When my child asks me to play, I try to say yes.  I will set boundaries on time and such, but they don’t have thier friends or recess to socialize with.  They are lonely too.  When they older and move away from home, I am sure that I will be wishing for them to ask me to play with them one more time. I have the time now.  I also shifted my thinking to how can I contribute to their education.  What can I teach them that will make this year special? I would like them to look back on this year with happy memories.  I asked them what they would want to learn this year.  Since we are homeschooling, we can do things a bit differently.  They each told me two things that they would like to learn.  For example, they wanted to learn about rabbits.  I was able to find a curriculum focused on rabbits.  We incorporated this into their day.  It was a two- week program.  They loved it, and it really sparked their desire to learn and keep focused on schoolwork.  They felt they had a bit of control over their own situation.  Win Win!! 

We also started reading the Little House on the Prairie books together at night.  We did some crafts related to Laura Ingalls and her life on the farm.   I also took them on field trip to Living History Farms for them to see what life for Laura was really like.  This was priceless learning experience for them, and it made history come alive for them.  Things I would not have been able to do with them if they were in school and I at work.   I was also able to really home in on their learning types.  I learned that my third grader was having trouble with spelling and blends.  I may have missed this without this opportunity.  I can intervene and work with his teacher on how to help him with this.  I have been able to teach my first grader how to read.  This is something that I never would have thought I could have done.  I have to say, it has been awesome seeing his progress!   

The moral of my story is that you can choose to be down on the world and focus on the negative, or you can ask God to show you your purpose through this rough time.  What can you do to help make your or someone else’s situation better?  Is it time for you to adopt that rescue cat you’ve been thinking of?  Is it a time for you to draw closer to God and strengthen your relationship with Him? It could just be to focus on your family and regain the closeness that our usual busy lives don’t allow for.  It could be all these things.  It could just be for you to refocus your intentions every day and live a life that you and God are proud of.  We have seen a glimpse of just how fragile life is and everything we take for granted in it.  Whatever it is, just realize that God does have a plan.  We may not know it or see it yet, but I assure you, we will. 

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