“United We Stand… 6 Feet Away”

Too many lives have been lost, Social distancing has commenced, Shelter in Place mandatory, homeschooling in effect, shortages of supplies, family walks, working from home, working on the front lines, lost jobs, Zoom meetings, FaceTime, sibling rivalries, siblings banding together, tent camping in the backyard, dressing up fancy for a kitchen dinner, shipping delays, Easter egg hunt alone, wearing stilettos just because, day drinking, spread out lawn chairs for socializing, late nights, sleeping in, fighting depression, lots of snacking, garage fitness, new stresses, new joys, canceling plans, making new plans, mobile ordering and much, much more. Feel free to add to the list!

COVID-19 has definitely effected all our lives in one way or another. I won’t even begin to pretend I have it bad because I know countless many have it way worse off than me and we all are standing together in prayer and support for every ounce of defeat that comes with many of what I mentioned above. My heart goes out to all of you! Please know that anyone’s story below, including mine, does not make any one’s story lesser than or greater than or negate your story altogether even. In the four walls of every home lies a story, and the hope of sharing is that it reaches even one person so they might know they are not alone, and hopefully that is enough to lift their head and feel a warm hug in their heart. You are certainly not alone, even if your story has no similarities to those listed below… we are all in this together!

My journey, as you may already know, begins with the fact that I am not able to continue my photography until the Shelter-in-Place orders are lifted. As a wedding photographer, spending almost every weekend at an elaborate, fabulous party, making people look and feel their best, it has been a heartache. I hear from my brides who are having to cancel or postpone their weddings and my heart breaks for them! So I stay home as the emails come in, I am homeschooling 3 of my 4 kids which definitely adds stress, and my husband is working from our bedroom (his new office). We go on TONS of walks, I started walking Daisy and Brownie twice per day (our English Bulldog and Pug), our family plays lots of games, and we just watched TROLLS – WORLD TOUR! <3 I have definitely seen a shift in my kids as they have started to want to play together more instead of separate which is a MIRACLE!!! And they have been camping in our backyard, which I highly recommend!!!! It has been wonderful! A bit of encouragement for y’all – from me to you – is this: Get ready each day, including hair and makeup (or for the guys – Follow Justin’s lead in the first photo below! haha), make your bed, teach your kids chores, no matter how small, make one lifestyle change, and be givers.

That brings me to last Friday when I drove around my neighborhood to capture my neighbors from my car in their Shelter-in-Place element. One of my favorite signs I saw was from the Hamiltons: “United WE Stand… 6 feet away.” Haha. Take a look below and see how my neighbors are handling life right now and pay heed to the amazing outlook they have mustered in the process. These are incredible humans and I’m so thankful to live in such a neighborhood. I’m definitely proud to be an American and proud to be part of this community of awesomeness!

From Christine: I am very social and love seeing people and going to events with family on the weekends. My daughter usually has 7 therapies a week which have all been affected because we don’t leave the house and have been socially isolating for over a month. Initially I was devastated but I have found myself diving into my devotionals and relationship with God. I do a gratitude journal every day and have found I am so grateful for this opportunity to spend so much uninterrupted quality time with my family and in my marriage. I am falling in love with my husband again watching him with the kids and having more meaningful engaged time with each other. Life goes so quickly and I’m learning to slow down and take in the moments. My husband and I can’t believe how much our kids have grown in just a month and know this would have flown by and we wouldn’t have noticed this growth until it was likely 6 months or more that had gone by. It’s such a heartbreaking circumstance for our country and the world but everyday I have to wake up and choose to be grateful for what we have and choose joy.

From Lynn: We are very blessed that COVID-19 hasn’t drastically changed our lives.  I did lose my job but we are doing okay.  We are healthy and safe and that is all we can ask for! I was a preschool teacher and my husband is working from home. I think the reason this hasn’t changed our lifestyle too much is because we strive to always protect our family life.  We refuse to live this frenzied life and will not subject our kids to it.  My suggestion to all is to cherish this time and when things return to ‘normal’ let this be your new normal. 🙂

From Niki: I always work from home so COVID-19 has given me office mates!  It has also reminded me that we can never be too prepared for an emergency. Additionally, I work for Methodist Healthcare and, while I always feel like our doctors, nurses and employees are heroes, I love the admiration they’re getting around the world now!

My husband has joined me in my home office.  He brings some much needed comic relief to my work day. I’ve been reminded that I married a loving and funny man who is the perfect companion in quarantine, We’ve raised some really smart and super cute young men who have taken the initiative to complete their assignments and do not slack in their efforts even though at home and that we are all just fine. The thing we remind ourselves of is that we aren’t stuck at home – we are safe at home!

From Lindsey: I am super stressed about groceries and cooking all the time. Kids are home from preschool and we’ve changed our au pair schedule to accommodate working hours (she used to put them to bed). It’s been a huge adjustment. We both work out of the home. My husband always has but I would go to iHeart 3 days a week. My favorite thing right now is worshipping God with my son. Our family song is waymaker (which is what I included on the message boards :))

From Michele: Our world is upside down but not all negative. We’re getting creative with how to spend our time together, baking, working out, doing yard work, eating dinner as a family. Workforce commission, essential services teleworking as the need for services surged. Hubby works on the railroad and is gone frequently, thank goodness grandma lives with us. We’ve learned to be patient with each other but enjoy our time together as much as possible. It’s challenging and very different since we were accustomed to living so separately even under the same roof. This has been kind of a blessing in disguise.

From Stephanie: We are currently working from home or at at least my husband is. I am a stay at home Mom. The current stay at home orders have made me even more grateful for my my family. We were extremely blessed to get my husband home from Iraq where he works before the borders were closed.  These times have certainly taught us to be Thankful for our blessings and to not take everyday things for granted. We have tried our best to encourage each other, help those in need, support small businesses, and give grace in these most difficult circumstances.

From Heather: COVID-19 has had a tremendous impact on our lives. I am a special education teacher in a low-income area. I have not seen my students in 6 weeks. I pray that they are safe and healthy, but it is hard for me to know. I continue to stay connected with their parents, but it isn’t the same as seeing their sweet faces each day.

My husband, Ryan, has been working from home. We have been homeschooling our two older children, which is way harder than teaching a class full of students! This has been a significant change to our daily, fast paced lives we were used to. We recently had a baby (in November) and I returned to work in January. This was the soonest I had returned to work after having each of my children. In a way, we have been blessed to be home as a family; to spend more time with our children taking walks, baking, and just being flat out goofy!

Although we are all so eager for our lives to go back to normal, I just want to share one thing with all parents that are home with their kiddos. Go for walks, draw, bake, play board games. Do all things that you don’t have time for during your normal work week. Don’t we all wish we could do more things with our kids? This is the time that we have been given to do those things. Throw the football, kick the soccer ball, jump on the trampoline! HAVE FUN WITH YOUR KIDS!

From Megan: We are both fortunate to still be working full time, and for now I am home with my kids who are out of school. I would say that is the biggest thing that has affected our family directly. It’s brought a whole new set of challenges I had never prepared for. As inconvenient as this has been in so many different aspects of our lives, I am having so much more fun with our kids. We are being more creative, talking more, doing and learning things together that we never made time for before and I’m just trying to remember that in the times when I’m feeling overwhelmed with our “new normal”.

From Angie: I am not a creature of change. I like my schedules and routines so this has been mentally exhausting. Working at gym to repaint, clean, and improve facility while we have the time off. We normally only get about 10 days off a year so it’s really strange. Silver lining: I’ve learned that it’s ok to slow down. Even to do nothing sometimes.

From Anna: COVID has changed how we do just about everything. Play dates/social interactions/meetings, everything is virtual. For the most part we have been home hunkering down, where before COVID we were out and about most days, with 2 little ones it’s challenging being home all day, but we’re doing it! 

Tom is an essential worker so he still has to go into work most days, although he has been trying to work from home when he can. I am a dental hygienist, which is extremely high risk for contracting COVID, so I haven’t been working and won’t be for the foreseeable future. 

We are taking it one day at a time, and we like to remind ourselves this will all end, and life will return back to normal, so we’re just trying to enjoy this phase of life.

From Vanessa: I am used to dragging both kids with me to school during the week and spending our weekends at the baseball field. Being forced outside of the comfort zone of our daily life has been a learning curve but also a blessing in disguise. It has been astounding to witness how little we actually need, as well as how content and resourceful we can be with what we already have. Both my husband and myself are fortunate enough to be working from home.

I am a 4th grade teacher and my husband, Scott, is an assistant baseball coach. We are in constant contact with our students and players, and while it’s not the same, praise His name for modern day technology that allows us to not skip a beat and continue on.One thing we have learned is the importance of perspective. While it’s easy to get caught up, seeing the good in everything and even in every situation is a choice. We choose to have faith during this time and remain steadfast that the Lord’s plans are always good. We have treasured this time to simply slow down and enjoy life together as a family by: playing games, riding bikes, gardening, and reading… just to name a few!

From Jenessa: My kids are young and not in grade school yet but we tried to be very active with friends and other activities before covid 19. We aren’t able to go on outings like we usually do and we haven’t been able to schedule playdates with friends. I work very part time hours as a nurse in the hospital so I’m working outside the home about 1-2x per month. I’ve learned that my home can be a true safe haven for my children. I hope they are able to look back on this time and think about the fun activities we have tried to do and the extra time we’ve been able to spend together as a family.

From Stephanee: All of this has made me realize life is just way too short especially when I️t was hitting close to home. Since school has been out I feel like time has slowed down and we get a chance to spend more time with each other. Both of us are working out of the house due to essential lines of work. The number one encouragement I can give is to only go out when you need to! It’s not worth running and trampling each other over supplies…( yes, i have seen it happen). It’s getting better and gradually getting back to normal. Don’t be a hoarder… Everything is going to be ok!

From Rachel: Our little family has gotten to know each other again, growing pains included 😉, I’ve been cooking more and we’ve had more family meals together and lots of movie nights haha. Online school has been obnoxious but do-able. We have enjoyed a slower pace but miss our friends :/ Hubby is working from home 3-4 days a week and going in 1-2 days a week for meetings. Biggest thing I’ve learned is to not take anything for grated!! Especially people and relationships. And going out to eat. 😂

From Janet: COVID-19 has changed our world by trips to visit family being postponed and learning how to be creative and intentional about interactions with those we love and care about. While both our jobs are deemed essential, I am able to continue working from home while Edward must continue to travel. We spent the 1st month of shelter in place apart. The biggest thing we’ve learned is how much we touch our face!!!! And how to be more intentional about our actions and interaction with others and ourselves.

From Jordin: COVID has changed my world into a slower paced setting. Our family use to go non-stop and with the virus forces us to stay inside, we have picked back up doing the little things again. We have dinner more together as a family, we do more meaningful activities together again and get to have more quality time together.

Our family is doing a combination of both staying home from work and leaving home. My husband and his company are partnered with Local hospital based out of Austin so with our business listed as an essential, Dan is still required to work out of the house.  I on the other hand have pulled back and have taken the roll of a stay at home mom. I’m so blessed that we are in a position where I can stay with my little peanut.

There’s always a reason
for all that happens.
Just as the Trees which endure
the stormiest winds
grow stronger
trunks & branches
so too will stormy times
help you
to grow