Philippians 4:6

This morning Stuart learned that the whole IT department has been furloughed.  Their headquarters building has been closed due to coronavirus precautions but up until now he has been able to work from home.  With the furlough, he will not be working and he will have no income.  But he is still an employee so hopefully they will call him back to work in a few weeks when this mess is all over.  

About 10:30 am I received a text from a friend that I haven't talked to in a long time.  We aren't really close friends.  We just see each other at various homeschool events.  So it was odd to get a text from her at all but just take a look at the amazing timing of her message....

🌞Good morning! Just checking on you! 🥰

Hope you're doing well in these crazy times.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Phil. 4:6-7

That was all she said.  Philippians 4:6 is such a comforting reminder and just what I needed to hear.  

But there is more to the story.  We had not told the kids about the job situation yet.  We were still in shock and processing it ourselves.  But while we were dealing with that, Rachel was making herself busy.  I often can't keep up with all of her little projects so I didn't see what she was doing until she was finished.

Rachel was busy making Blessing Bags for neighbors!  She said that she knows everyone is feeling the stress of coronavirus and she just wanted to do something to cheer people up.  Each bag contained a snack, a watercolor picture with the word "Smile", a map to show where we live, flowers from our yard, and a note.

You won't believe what her note said.  Philippians 4:6

I don't know what the future holds but our God is greater and we will get through this.

I'll be praying for you and your loved ones during this scary time. And remember, 

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 
Phil 4:6

Feeling Stressed? Get Outdoors!

We have been staying home for most of March and we needed to get out of the house.  But we still wanted to avoid being around other people since we just aren't sure how easily coronavirus is transmitted.  So we decided to keep to ourselves and go on a family bike ride down to the duck pond.  When I'm stressed I just want to get outside and explore.  There are many studies that show how the great outdoors can help with stress management.  Check out this article, How Being Outdoors and Getting Active Impacts Stress Management.  It is a great way to get us all out of the house, soak up some immune-building Vitamin D, get some exercise, and get a breath of fresh air. 

We made the ride to the pond and got off our bikes for a while to enjoy the scenery.  These "ducks in a row" made me smile. 

My teenager who used to love being in front of the camera now rolls his eyes at Mom taking pictures of him.

But Little Bit still smiles for Mommy.

I loved that someone had set up a small community pantry of items on the picnic tables.  The signs say "If you are out, take some.  If you have extras, leave some."  There were various food items and the highly coveted toilet paper.  What a wonderful blessing for the neighborhood!

We decided to keep riding.  We often go to the end of this particular trail and take a break at the bench.  I first found this spot about 15 years ago when I was walking with Nicholas in a stroller.  We used to stop here and I would let him out of the stroller to feed him a snack while we sat together on the bench.

A beautiful dandelion!  While these are typically considered to be weeds, they are actually a very edible herb.  The leaves and roots have medicinal qualities.  They contain anti-oxidants and they also reduce inflammation, cholesterol, blood sugar, blood pressure.  The roasted roots can be used to make a great alternative to coffee.  Our local farmers market actually sells dandelion leaves next to the lettuce in the produce section.

We kept riding until we made it to Fish City Grill.  

The restaurant's dining area was closed but we were able to go in to place an order for takeout.

It was sad and almost eerie seeing the restaurant so empty and unused.  I'm sure their business and so many other restaurants are really hurting during all of this.

We were able to use their restroom and wash our hands.  I love their sign about washing your hands!

We each ordered a cup of gumbo.  Oh it was so delicious.  Now that is Cajun comfort food.

Time to head back home.

On the way back, we stopped and played in a creek that we love.

It made me happy to look at the buds and new growth on the plants as if it was reminding me that this virus will soon pass and the shut downs will be over and we will all be able to get back to normal life with a brand new outlook and a fresh start of our own.

Boys always love playing with sticks.  As they get older the sticks just get bigger.

And they must be used as a tool to make a big splash!

If a big stick was fun then a whole tree might be even better....

I know it is hard to read the chalk writing in this picture but it says, "The whole country would be tested by morning if Chick-fil-a was running the drive thru testing centers".

I love the shirt Stuart wore today.  Our church gave it to him to wear when he baptized Rachel.  We could all use a little Hope these days.  

Notice the little blessings all around you and you will soon find joy and hope in your heart again. 

If you are feeling stressed and anxious, take some time to go outside.  Here are some publications and research studies which support the idea of Nature Therapy for healing the body and mind:

Quarantine Projects

With the JCPenney headquarters closed, Stuart has been working from home.  Businesses are closing and activities are getting cancelled.  Everyone is encouraged to stay at home, if possible. Although it is a scary time, we are enjoying the extra time together at home.  

We have played board games together.  Catan is our current favorite.

Stuart and Nicholas have installed recessed lighting in the living room and in Nicholas' room.  Here are pictures from the living room projects.

I have been cleaning out clutter.  I found this 3-ring binder that I made when we first got married.  It has tons of recipes that I cut out of magazines and glued onto paper.  I had it sort of organized by appetizer, salad, entree, dessert.  I don't look at it anymore since I usually just search online when I want a recipe.  It was kind of sad to throw it out but afterwards it felt good to make space.

The kids are both taking individual music lessons and those have been moved to online lessons.  Nicholas is also in a rock band through the music school and they have tried to meet online but it is hard for everyone to play their instruments together when there are internet delays.

Our church is closed but they are broadcasting the services online.  It is so unnerving that things are closing and that we can't even get together to worship.  But our church did a great job of pulling together the online service so quickly.  They have some response questions at the end so that we can discuss our responses together as a family.  

With so many things closed down, there are a lot more opportunities being offered for watching online plays, operas, virtual museum tours, art classes, etc.  The kids have already taken a few online classes for fun and there are so many more that I'd like to sign them up for.  Rachel just finished an online class in watercolor painting.

It is a scary time but we are going to make the best of our time together at home.  We will have more time to relax, learn, and pray together.  Those are all good things.