It was a little over a year ago our life changed – everyone’s did, as the lockdowns started and the pandemic began its sweep across the country. Last year, Piper’s 11th birthday came and went without her friend party or her extended family gathering to watch her blow her candles out.
This year, as we celebrate her 12th birthday, things are slowly but most definitely surely returning to our normal. Or are they?
Eliza is playing soccer again. Riley is providing child care for a local church’s community groups. Piano lessons have resumed and they are all three going to their respective public schools for 1st, 6th and 12th grades. The pre-pandemic pace has resumed yet the events of the last 12 months have left their mark.
Piper’s birthday is a prime example. . .
Again this year we invited the friends and made the plans. Then sickness.
Eliza, Piper’s younger sister, climbed in the car Thursday afternoon saying she didn’t feel well. Arriving home from school, we took her temp and found that she, sure enough, had a low-grade fever. Early Friday morning she woke her daddy and I to find that she was now truly sick with a full-blown fever.
I gave her Ibuprofen and a cup of water. I settled her back in her bed and laid down with her. As I scratched her back, my mind began to race –
Should I take her the doctor? – 18 months ago, the answer was no. It would have been a simple, average, run-of-the-mill virus. It would run it’s course and she’d go back to school Monday . . But now? What if it’s not? Even though the girls’ Pa has had his vaccine, it could be worse than hard on his 90 year old body. Would we all need to quarantine again? What about work and school next week?
What about Piper’s party? – I knew it would crush her heart to cancel. Maybe a change of location? But where? If it isn’t a simple, average, run-of-the-mill virus, could we all be contagious? Maybe we should reschedule? But when? How would she take it?
Yes. We should have and did take her to the doctor’s walk-in clinic. That answer came simply enough. The strep test and the Covid test were administered without much fanfare. After all, she had been tested for both 4 times in the last 12 months. Thankfully, as in all the times before, all her tests came back negative. A school excuse was signed and we returned home.
Yesterday afternoon, I broke Piper’s heart telling her we would have to reschedule. She understood, but she cried. We had told her the same thing a year ago, that we would reschedule, but we were never able to keep our word. I laid with her in the floor of her room while she sobbed. When I got up, I spent the next hour texting her guest list’s mothers and making another plan that would allow most of them to still be able to attend. The girls will come over Monday evening instead.
The county-wide mask mandate may have lifted last week, but most of the stores are still requiring them. My oldest daughter’s prom and graduation ceremonies are still happening, but with social-distancing and attendance provisions. Churches are seeing many people returning to fill their pews, but offering and communion plates are not being passed down the aisles.
It is only wise for us and for our leadership to be cautious in re-opening and returning to “normal.” However, with all that has happened in the last year, it is also only wise that our “normal” will be different than what it was before – and that’s not all bad.
I want to remember what I have learned in the last 12 months. I am a better wall painter, having completed several rooms. I am closer to my kids, having spent loads of quality time together. I am more organized, having made sense of a garage, a basement, my desk, my dresser and several closets. But there is more to what I have learned than this.
I am not the same person I was 12 months ago. I have grown intellectually as I finished several books and completed a stack of puzzles. I have added a few pounds physically from not exercising and attempting new dessert and bread recipes. I have learned a lot spiritually and that’s particularly what I want to hold on to.
God is in control. I may make plans, but He is the One who ultimately directs my steps. There are things happening in the world that are bigger than me and my plans. He is intimately with me in all things. I need Him. I need to stop and acknowledge Him and rest in Him and be with Him.
This week, God used the weather and a simple, average, run-of-the-mill virus to bring all of these lessons back into perspective. It amazes me how quickly I had forgotten, how blurry my vision became and how easy it was for me to forget the things I had spent the last year learning.
It has definitely given me some grace for the ancient Israelites. They witnessed God’s mighty acts and super-natural salvation from the Egyptians, yet they weren’t across the Red Sea many days before they were ready to chuck it all and return to their lives as slaves, doubting God’s provision and making their own plans. I can relate.
The threat of storms closed school early on Thursday and canceled today’s soccer games. Through thunder and wind, God shows He is still in control.
Eliza’s fever is almost 24 hours gone. The party is re-planned to include the birthday girl’s favorite pizza. (Along with her preference of Spinach Alfredo from CiCi’s, we will also have some pepperoni and cheese!) I am sipping coffee and typing this post. My spirit is at peace and God has, once again, shown me His faithfulness in all things.
While pre-pandemic paces and routines are slowly returning, I am thankful that in God’s faithfulness, He will not let me forget what He has spent the last year teaching me. He was faithful before. He was faithful through. He is faithful now. He will always be faithful.
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