I grew up with both my parents and three siblings. My maternal grandparents also lived with us for a while. We had several extended family members that lived within an hour's drive. My parents encouraged us to work hard, in whatever we did. None of us ere ever very athletic, but we each had other interests that we were allowed to pursue. Although we were busy, we usually found time to get together for holidays, graduations, birthdays, and casual get-togethers. I usually enjoyed being around my extended family. I argued with my siblings, just like most families. I love being with my siblings so much more, now that we do not live under the same roof! We all get along better, now that we have all matured, have our own families, and live miles apart.
Now, my parents, and two of my siblings, live on the West Coast. We live in the middle of the country, and I have a sibling who lives on the East Coast. Yesterday, we were all able to have a video chat. (Wow, Lord, thank you for this technology!) It was really good to see everyone's faces. We were all at our own homes, in three different time zones, but we had actually made time to get-together. The technical difficulties did not last long, and it was good to hear everyone's voices and laughter. the last time we were all in the same place was nearly two years ago. We do not have any plans for the near future to be together again, other than online with video conference.
My dad said something yesterday that brought tears to my eyes. He said "This is very hard. Living like this is hard." He was talking about all of the isolation. His state is basically on lock-down. His health already keeps him from doing many things, but now this pandemic is keeping him from more. He enjoys going out to eat (restaurants are closed, except for delivery and take-out), going to church and bible studies (online only, for now), and going to professional baseball games (the MLB season has been postponed indefinitely). He also enjoys seeing his grandchildren. Currently, all of them live far away from him. My parents had plans to travel for spring break, but they had to cancel their flight a month ago. They would have been across the country from their home, enjoying time with their oldest children and grandkids. Instead, they were safely in their house, enjoying each other's constant company and video chatting.
I feel for my dad, and all of those in the same situation. I have been kept busy, and am still employed. My children are cooped up in the house, except when they get to come to work with me (usually Tuesday through Friday), and when they get to play outside (days it is not raining). They have been given work to do for school, both on paper and online. Some have decided to learn new skills (like playing the piano), and others are just enjoying not having to be somewhere every night (all practices are cancelled, and church is mainly just online). We are cooking at home more often, but also get to support local restaurants because we are saving so much in gasoline and entertainment. We started a vegetable garden, and everyone is responsible for tending to it, including brown-thumbed me! Everyday, there is new growth, both from our plants and from our family! We have had more conversations about God with our little ones in the past three weeks than we have had all year.
I encourage you to keep up the good words to each other, and keep the negatives away! The silly faces sent over the internet have been a perk in my everyday life, as to my parents. We are not able to really go anywhere, but we are getting to know each other better. (Everyone who has just read this post has just learned a little more about me!) I have plenty of projects in my own home that I still have not touched. Maybe we will get to them this time, and maybe not. What I do want to do with all of this free time, though, is to teach my children about God, and to learn more about Him. As the world gets "scarier", I want them to know that God is still bigger. Although they cannot go to their friends' and grandparents' houses right now, they can still love them by sending them letters and notes of encouragement (you know, like the writers of the New Testament). We will do the best with what we have, where we are. There are people throughout the Bible and Church history who have endured more, with less than what we have. Let us not give up hope!
4 For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.