Spring Break-COVID Style

Instead of Grand Cayman, we spent the last week at our double-wide trailer on Lake Hickory that is affectionately known as the Redneck Villa. I am sure in my previous posts, I have mentioned our Redneck Villa. It is nothing fancy, but it is our summer get-away, only about an hour from our home in Charlotte. We spend most of our weekends each summer at the Villa. However, arriving to the Villa this last week felt very different. After a month of social distancing from family and friends and 4 weeks of kitchen table home-schooling, arriving at the Villa felt like arriving to a destination 1,000,000 miles away. And, the view is not that bad.

First and foremost, we got to spend quality time with family. My parents and my mother-in-law live only 5 to 10 minutes away from the Villa. Given the coronavirus crisis, we had spent no time with them over the two months. And, my own sister, who lives in the Charlotte area, had been diagnosed with COVID a month ago. We have been unable to see her family including the cousins for weeks. My sister story was recently highlighted on the atrium health social media platform. See below:

Since they were officially cleared from quarantine, we invited them to join us at the Redneck Villa. And, we had the glorious opportunity to spend Good Friday together. I cannot tell you how long it has been since our extended family shared an Easter season together. Mind you, it was not like any Easter service that we had in the past. All 13 of us slouched around the couch and watched Good Friday services virtually. There was singing, there was harmony, there were tears and there was lots of joy. Heck, even the dogs participated. Culminating the night was sharing Communion together. My brother-in-law is a pastor and he shared with us the elements. No fancy dresses, no Easter bonnets, no died eggs or an Easter Bunny. Yet, it was an Easter I will never forget.

The last 5 weeks have felt a lot like Passover. In the weeks before Jesus’s crucifixion, the Jewish people prepared for the Passover. It was the season that they remembered their oppression in Egypt and how God delivered them. The Passover celebration was established as a memorial to remember when the Angel of the Lord struck the Egyptians with plagues and eventual death. The Israelites placed blood on their doorposts as a sign that their household should be “passed over.” I think many of us feel the same way, hoping that the coronavirus (aka COVID-19) will pass over our households. We are anxious and worried in ways that we’ve never experienced. Yet, God reminded me over this last week that there is joy, even in the waiting and uncertainty.

So, what did that quality time look like? Well, we binged stupid shows from the 90’s, like Full House! We played hours and hours of kickball and knock out. We played card games like Nertz and Solitaire. We giggled through silly games like “three on a bench.” We soaked up some Vitamin D and took a polar plunge into the lake. We fished in the pond on Joe’s family’s farm. And, we spent some quality time with the farm animals!

We even recorded a dance video with my 73 year old mother in it! Check out the screenshot:

Most importantly, we leaned in to each other’s lives. This Spring Break, and the last four weeks preceding, created the most one on one time I’ve spent with my kids in years. And, it has been amazing! I’ve talked to them about their friend relationships. Got more details and color than I ever expected to hear. We’ve talked about their dreams for college, marriage and careers. We explored their future kids' names. We’ve watched movies and talked about the deeper meanings (including action movies like the Fast and Furious series). I’ve even shared their world of Tik-Toks and Snap-Chats. Go figure!

Spring Break COVID style has also given me a new perspective on this pandemic. What had seemed like an incredible interruption to our lives has turned out to be an incredible opportunity to strengthen our relationships, with each other and with our Creator.

I’ve used the time to dig deeper into Scripture. I’m currently reading through the Bible and I am in the book of 1 Kings. It is the story of Elijah’s season of despair when flees into the wilderness, sits down under a broom tree and has a pity party, stating that he’s had enough and he wants to die. But, in the midst of his despair, God shows up. An angel brings a hot cake of bread and water, not once, but twice. And, the angel does not dispute Elijah’s assertion that he’s had enough. Instead, he brings provision and affirms that “the journey is too great for him” (I Kings 19:7). He then sends him for forty days and forty nights to Mount Horeb, the mount of God. He has to meet God in his despair. And, I love how God shows himself. A great wind tears the mountain and breaks the rocks. But, God is not in it. Then, an earthquake shakes the mountain. But, God is not in it. Then, fire passes over. But, God is not in it. Finally, there is a low, quiet whisper, and God is there.

This Spring Break has pulled me away from the winds, earthquake a fire of the coronavirus pandemic, rocking my world as a physician, healthcare administrator and leader. I realized I’d been having a pity party about work, the economy, the disease burden on my patients and their families. Yet, in the whisper of "chill time" with my family this last week, I’ve seen God working to draw us closer to Him and to each other. Just like the Israelites experienced the Passover and were drawn closer to God, we are going to get through this season and see God’s deliverance. I pray that each of you cherish this time to lean in to your families. May your spring break forth in a closer walk with Him, COVID style!

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