I wrote this article five weeks ago and nothing has changed. If anything, I am needing to be more diligent in giving myself grace but to continue to run to these most important “R’s.” They’ve been a life line when I’ve needed to reprioritize.

I’ve been staring at a blank screen for hours. With tensions soaring and our immediate future unknown, there’s so much noise. With the push and pull of voices, statistics and graphs, declarations and dissension, I’m hesitant to be one more voice throwing words to the wind, yet our quarantine has evolved quite differently than most.

When our adult children sensed an upcoming lock down in their large cities, our “Just Open the Door” lifestyle took new meaning. They traveled home bringing friends who’d also been displaced. Between twelve of us, we come to our table with a variety of backgrounds, personalities, fears, job uncertainties, cancellations, and dashed dreams. Mix in the tightly wound togetherness of sharing four bedrooms and we’re a petri dish of gospel-life learning.

Laying a foundation of core biblical truths has been a critical narrative threading through our time together, and here’s what I’ve clung to:

1. Rest and Refresh

There are no guides entitled “Seven Suggestions for Surviving and Thriving in a Worldwide Pandemic.” We’re navigating new levels of mental, physical and spiritual fatigue. Everyone’s stressors and situations are different, yet He promises, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take up my yoke and learn from me, because I am lowly and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” Matthew 11:28-29 (ESV).

Run your burdens to Him. He is the only true source of rest and refreshment, and I desire our home to symbolize Isaiah 28:12 — for it to be a place of rest where the weary can rest and be refreshed.

2. Realign

Our hearts, souls, and thought lives weren’t created to handle the myriad of information being thrown at us. I’ve found it critical to pare down opinions and input.

Our feelings, though valuable gifts that help us experience life, are notoriously horrible captains. Our feeling are valid, yet overwhelming. If we allow altered emotions to steer us through our quarantine, focusing solely on our personal suffering, it’s a crash waiting to happen. I choose to believe that even amidst suffering, nothing happens to us that hasn’t passed through the hand of God first. He is full of grace, mercy, and love and will ultimately use the purpose in our pain for His glory.

Wholeheartedly loving God and believing in the truth that He loves us infinitely more than we can ever imagine requires that we anchor our feelings in His Word and keep careful watch over what fills our hearts and minds. Turn off the news. Mute Facebook. Stop scrolling. Allow your soul to breathe, so you can focus on the only sure foundation – His living Word.

3. Retreat  (and Repent)

Part of our family’s manifesto is, “May our home be a safe, refreshing haven where everyone is loved, valued, and welcome; a soft place to land where real life happens.”

With twelve people quarantined under our roof, there’s a lot of real life happening. In order to elevate from survival mode to a place of refreshment, let grace abound. Generously give people the benefit of the doubt (especially online) and grant permission to literally retreat before you say things you’ll regret.

No foul (unwholesome) language should come from your mouth, but only what is good for building up someone in need,
so that it gives grace to those who hear.

Ephesians 4:29 (CSB)

Yesterday tensions were high. I disagreed with others’ assessments so in order for me to live out that verse, I physically retreated and high tailed it outside. That was the most biblical thing I could do in the moment, but then I also needed to repent. Yes, there has been a lot of this here at our Huckleberry Haven Homestead. Because while our family is incredibly close knit and this time together is such a gift, admittedly I haven’t retreated quick enough many times. 😉

Grace on, Guilt Off. Yes, you know my mantra. Right now preach it out loud to yourself. Say it again. Let his Grace reign and rain on you.

4. Reach Out

One of Satan’s successful strategies is to create isolation and loneliness in the hearts of women. I’ve spent  years combatting this tactic by encouraging women with the gospel message of Just Open the Door. So with this quarantine, my heart has been in shambles since I know how serious the consequences can be. What a gift to see how women are still reaching out, practicing traveling hospitality, and continuing to love their neighbors in generous and creative ways during this age of social distancing.

A sure fire antidote to help our hearts shift from a sense of panic to peace is to focus on others. “How can I make Jesus known to someone else today?” Reaching out will look different for everyone in the age of “just shut the door,” but we can show up and make a meaningful difference in the lives of other people. Show up. Check in. Send a text. Give some cookies. Reach out and share your life.

5. Rejoice

Amidst fighting fear and financial disruption, amidst cancelled weddings and scary medical diagnoses, amidst crying kids and temperamental teenagers, He is still on the throne. He makes no mistakes and is working all things together for His glory and goodness. In Christ alone, He is enough for our darkest hour.

In the middle of the mess, actively pursue gratitude and rejoice. As we fight to seek beauty in our new normal, we won’t waste this unique moment in history.

Today I’m rejoicing in the easy recipe success, pizza by candle light, a Zoom call with grandparents, dancing in our kitchen, my yard sale vase donning flowering weeds, and one clean junk drawer. For those who name Jesus as Lord, we have a promise of His eternal glory. What a day of rejoicing that will be.

Over on my instagram stories, I’m documenting both the beauty and the bedlam of everyday life. Please join me as we fight to find the beauty and offer the gift of gratitude.

How are you choosing joy today?