YOU ARE NOT ALONE

Millions of Americans have been ordered to shelter in place during this global health crisis. Quarantine is an aggressive measure to attempt to control the spread of an aggressive virus, but it can also leave us feeling lonely, disconnected, and even depressed. As Christians, we face unique challenges as we seek to trust God, serve our families and community, and redeem the time spent in quarantine. These are real-life stories of believers who are learning to shelter in grace and cope in quarantine.

Answered Prayer during a Pandemic

Sadie's Story
Pandemic. Quarantine. Shelter in place. For a mom with major anxiety, these words settled over me like a still, heavy weight before a storm. Weeks of this situation have shown me once again that Jesus is in the midst of it all. I kept waiting to get back to church, but He met me in my home in the middle of a pile of dishes and kids asking for a snack every thirty seconds. In the middle of my personal panic and anger, Jesus did not quiet the pandemic, but He stilled my soul so I could listen, breathe, and find rest. In that quiet that I thought was a prelude to a storm, He told us something new was blossoming. Adoption is a journey we've dreamt of for years and at this unexpected time we heard the most beautiful yes. Amidst the anxiety of facing so many unknowns, we are seeking Jesus every day, fully walking into His yes—into a new life that is blooming so beautifully while the world is shut down.

Nathan's Story
At the beginning of the stay-at-home order, we didn't think things would be too bad. We already homeschooled our children and we knew that my work and income would continue. But after a brief honeymoon period of reduced work hours and sleeping in, the lack of routine took a toll on our kids and marriage. Our experience with homeschooling taught us that routine is important, but the current circumstances really drove it home. There is a reason God made the Sabbath: He knew that humans need work and rest, purpose and relaxation.

For ten years—before we even married—we knew that part of our purpose included adoption. We never would have guessed that a global pandemic would erupt when we started the adoption process. Working on our home study has become part of our purpose in recent weeks, but we recognize that we need rest, so we've taken a few nights off. After putting our kids to bed, instead of filling out forms and gathering documents, we've spent some evenings simply being together to make a late dinner, watch a show, and just chat. Our old, familiar routine is gone now, perhaps forever, but we know God has given us a new routine and a fresh purpose to survive and thrive in these times.

Sadie & Nathan S.

Murray and Frances B.

Staying Close across Continents

This season has been challenging. Nothing could have prepared us for what we've been through during this global pandemic: a surgery, a death, and a wedding. And because half of our family lives in Australia, the physical separation, especially not seeing our grandkids, has brought on a wide range of emotions. Through all this, God has been our rock and He's called us to a deeper place with Him.

Scripture admonishes us to pray without ceasing and this has become a reality for us. We've enjoyed coming before the Lord together to pray for our world, our nation, and others. He has called us to fast, intercede, and pray His Word back to Him. We've been reminded of His promises, sovereignty, and plans for us. We've been challenged to encourage others and ourselves in the Lord even when we haven't felt like it. His Word has become our strength as we rely on Him for the joy we need to cope.

We're so grateful for the ability to Facetime with our kids and grandkids in Australia, and we even gave a speech virtually from another country at an improvised backyard college graduation ceremony. Tea parties and men's Bible studies over Zoom have encouraged us. We love being outside and have enjoyed backyard family dance parties, puttering in the garden, and bike rides. This situation has caused us to be creative and to find fun in simple things.

The Lord has impressed on us to wholeheartedly trust in Him and to be diligent, sober-minded, prayerful, and thankful. He has our present and our future in His hands. We may not be able to control what's going on around us, but we can control our attitude and our outlook.

New Job, New City, New Perspective

Moving during a pandemic sounds like a great idea, right? Having accepted a new job mid-March, I moved halfway across the country just as states were beginning to shut down. I had to quarantine for fourteen days, and those weeks were difficult. I wondered if I made the right decision. I asked God why He allowed me to move during such an uncertain time. I felt badly for leaving my roommate behind and alone, and I was sad to be stuck in my basement apartment unable to see people or go anywhere. After a few days, I knew if I continued thinking negatively and didn't shift my perspective, I'd be letting the Enemy win. I had to make the choice to take my thoughts captive, as 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 says. And as an extrovert living alone, I needed community and to connect with people.

I began serving with the church online team during online services by welcoming people to the live chat. I set up a call with my family who is scattered between New Mexico and Tennessee to pray with one another. I was also able to play virtual board games with friends; we'd get our snacks ready and talk while playing. This time gave me insight on others who are single and living alone. I knew they had to be experiencing similar feelings, so reaching out to my single friends, I was able to encourage, build community, and pray for them.

Through this season, I'm learning what it means to shelter in grace—knowing God is in control and is intimately involved in each of our lives—and I'm grateful He allowed us to go through this together. I believe the church around the world will come out of this caring more deeply about one another. I'm excited to see what comes because God's plans are always good. He is faithful and He loves each of us more than we'll ever be able to comprehend. Keep walking by faith, even in the unknown.

Tiffany Rockhold

Tiffany R.

DeNicka E.

An Expecting Mom Finds Unexpected Purpose

I am thirty-five weeks pregnant with my first baby and I never imagined I'd be going through a pandemic during my pregnancy. As an extrovert, staying at home does not come naturally. I work at Calvary Church and I'm blessed to work from home to keep me and my baby boy healthy and safe. My work from home includes the privilege of making calls to everyone in our church database to check in and pray for them. I know these calls are meant for others, but I can honestly say that the Lord has used them greatly to impact me. I get to pray with and for people all day, and some have even prayed for me. This has strengthened my prayer life and my faith in God. It has also given me a fresh perspective that even though this situation is in no way ideal for any of us—and some people are going through harder times than I am—God is still good and faithful. Making prayer calls has also kept me connected to people, as it's one of the only avenues for community right now. This has made my extroverted heart so happy.

Shortly after this all started, we were told that my husband is no longer allowed to attend any of my prenatal appointments. At first, I was so sad. As I was driving alone to my first appointment to check our baby's heart, I was sad and anxious. I played worship music in the car and the Lord quickly reminded me that He will never leave me or forsake me and no hospital rules can keep His presence from me. People told us that nothing is predictable about preparing for a baby. What an understatement that was when the coronavirus pandemic began. My faith and trust in God have grown and I know He is taking care of us. I'm so thankful to have hope and an upward perspective during this time.

Breaking Routine and Finding Peace

The world looks different right now, and we certainly need to know that God is bigger than all of this. It's important to keep our eyes focused on Him to find peace in this new reality.

My wife and I have three kids, two dogs, and two businesses with two employees. I work from home, but I now have to homeschool my kids while building a fence, landscaping the yard, editing a website, and figuring out how to keep our employees. At the beginning, I was overwhelmed and lost sight that my kids need me to be their dad more than their teacher. I have adjusted my thinking to be not just school-centric and project-driven, but also flexible with what happens during the day.

One morning as my wife was leaving for work, she whispered to me (right after I yelled to the kids, "Cartoons off! Time for school! Time to get learning!), "Maybe you all should go for a walk before school just to change things up." I turned around and yelled, "Who wants to go for a walk?" The kids lit up, put their shoes on, and we walked around the neighborhood. They asked if we could do this every morning. They thought it was a good way to start the day, and I agreed with them. On our walk, I found a seed from a maple tree, the kind that whirls in the wind like helicopter blades. I asked the kids if they knew what it was and they guessed it was a wing from a butterfly or a moth. I explained that if I was God and wanted to make a new tree grow far from the original tree, I would make its seeds fly as far as possible. I threw the seed up and the kids freaked out as it whirled down. I explained that if they ever wonder whether God is real, just think about this seed and how complicated it is to create something so advanced. We overlook things like this every day. Without my wife's encouragement to go outside and explore with the kids, we would have had a normal homeschool day. I encourage you to change things up a little. Routines are good, but if we are only project-driven, we can overlook the small things God wants to teach us, reminding us that He cares and He is here with us.

Mat Carlson

Matt C.

Kathi Pirolo

Kathi P.

Living and Serving with Simplicity

Spending time in God's Word and prayer sets my attitude for the day. I've also discovered if I dress as if I'm going out, I feel better. I'm blessed that my mother insisted I learn to sew, and I've been able to provide many friends, neighbors, and organizations with free masks. I've made well over a hundred and it gives me a sense of purpose that even though it's a small thing, I'm helping. I also meet with a friend at a park with our masks on and staying ten feet apart. She is single and at high risk with no family in town, so she is alone most of the time. I also watch two of my grandkids on Wednesdays—fun times. During this time, I've learned so much of God's character.

Trusting the One Who Holds the Future

Since the outbreak of coronavirus, my family and I have been sheltering in place at our home. Thankfully, I've been able to maintain my job and work remotely. However, my research for my master's degree has been put on hold indefinitely until the university opens again. A lot of my future plans are suddenly in question, but Jesus showed me right away the importance of trust. He knows my future better than I do, and He's in control. I chose to see staying at home as an opportunity to slow down and spend time with the Lord daily through prayer, worship, and studying the Word. My family has also tuned into weekly church services and fellowshipped with our church community through FaceTime, which has helped provide some sense of normalcy and consistency.

Adapting to a new ministry environment was also a challenge. I've served with SPCTRM Student Ministries for the past four years and not having my usual methods to minister to my boys was frustrating. The Lord quickly showed me, however, to view these circumstances as an opportunity to be creative. Our amazing staff has worked on including devotionals on Instagram and filming content for our daily SPCTRM hour on YouTube. Sheltering in place hasn't stopped my Connect Group, either. I still meet with my boys virtually every week. We found web-based games that we can all play together, we talk about the weekly services, we discuss the challenges we're all facing, and we pray for one another. We're staying connected despite being physically distanced.

Nothing about the last several weeks has been normal or easy. But I'm so thankful to see God's faithfulness in caring for His people. When it feels like the whole world has stopped spinning, He's reminded me that He never stops moving. He's drawn me closer to Himself, He's given me fresh eyes toward ministry, and I'm more joyfully dependent on Him than ever before.

Rodrigo L.