If I would sum up our year in a word, it might be remodel.
In January, we started the year off with a big change.
After sitting with the Lord in prayer and discernment, we sent our kids to public school. Upon our return to Canada, 4 years earlier, we had continued our homeschool plans, which gave our family a lot of security and flexibility, especially with, our youngest daughter, Samara’s stay in hospital and subsequent isolation time after her transplant. As life seemed to have settled, God opened this door for us, and we walked right through.
Eliana entered grade 3 and Toby, the kindergarten class. While the middle of the year probably isn’t the greatest time to begin, they were both so excited, and grateful for classrooms with many familiar faces. They enjoyed the time they spent learning and connecting. Perhaps the greatest challenge was for Samara, who, at 3 years old, realized that there would be no one home to play with her.
This change meant that we had to remodel what our family time looked like, with a busy winter schedule; the kids were in hockey and attending Awana every week. I was grateful for the two months we had to adjust to new rhythms and routines, because March seemed to come all too quickly.
My work as an ER nurse had us observing the global situation, knowing it would only be a matter of time before the virus arrived. In March the lockdown began, churches and schools closed. There were many new protocols for us at the hospital, to learn and practice. Despite the low number of cases, this time of ‘flattening the curve’ gave us time to prepare and to care for our patients well.
As the restrictions lightened up, the beautiful weather of spring sparked our family’s itch to go away, so we packed up the camper and visited a few different spots across the province throughout the next months. These were such sweet family times.
We hiked the sand dunes at Spruce Woods, paddled along the lakes in the Whiteshell, and collected stones at Hecla Island. The summer days at home we enjoyed with friends. It was probably the first year that I really understood why Manitobans love the summer months so much. September was arriving, but I didn’t want summer to end!
As the fall approached and return to school plans developed, they would implement changes to keep everyone as safe as they could. While the transition required a lot of effort to implement, as change always does, we encouraged our kids to remember that these changes were opportunities to show love to those around them, by caring for the health of others.
They’ve been having a wonderful year, now in grade 4 and grade 1, with the littlest still at home. We have been so grateful for their teachers, who are helping to shape them into who God is creating them to be. While we spent a little time in extracurricular activities, which could start in September, they’ve all stopped as another wave of lockdown arrived in November. The board games are out, pails of cereal mix and puppy chow beside us, and hot chocolate at the ready as the winter temperatures enfold us.
The pace at work has increased steadily, since the lockdown was a response to hospitals and intensive care units over capacity. The pinch we wanted to avoid has arrived. It’s likely difficult for people outside of healthcare to understand, yet it is part of the economy, just like toilet paper. If everyone goes out to buy toilet paper on the same day, (even the same week) it will run out. If people get sick at the same time, hospitals don't run out...the rooms do, as do the supplies, the medications, and the equipment. In that case, we become hard pressed to care for our patients well.
I’ve learned a lot this year, about myself, about my family, and about faith. The challenges of leading in a pastoral role this season, my husband meets with grace, which bids me to do the same. The Word of God has been like manna for my weary soul, treasuring it like a lifeline, in the times of uncertainty and frustration. Living intentionally and with purpose has also stood out to me, as darkness has sought to invade attitudes and perspectives, I've been reminded that I carry the Light, wherever I go.
We built a shed in our backyard, put up interior walls in our basement, the remodelling continues. We've shifted once again to life at home in lockdown for these last weeks of 2020 and entering 2021.
It's been a year of learning to take life in stride and assess what is most important.
The invitation to slow down, learn our anxious tendencies, and practice putting them at the feet of Jesus. Don’t throw out 2020 just yet, while it hasn’t been what we wanted, nor expected, it happened by design. God has been at work.
As we prepare for this unusual Christmas, the words of Dietrich Bonhoeffer encourage us,
“God had looked upon the poor of the world and had himself come to help. Now he was there, not as the Almighty One, but in the seclusion of humanity. Wherever there are sinners, the weak, the sorrowful, the poor in the world, that is where God goes.
Here he lets himself be found by everyone. And this message goes throughout the world, year after year anew. And it also comes once again to us this year… Perhaps, this year, something wonderful will occur that will help us to celebrate Christmas.
Before our eyes stand the crowds of the unemployed, the millions of children throughout the world in hunger and distress, the hunger in China, the oppressed in India, and those in our own unhappy land. All eyes tell us of helplessness and despair.
And despite it all, Christmas comes. Whether we wish it or not, whether we are sure or not, we must hear the words once again: Christ the Savior is here! The world that Christ comes to save is our fallen and lost world. None other.”
(Dietrich Bonhoeffer's Christmas Sermons, Edwin H. Robertson,, Ed. (Zondervan: Jan 4, 2011)
Have a safe, and blessed celebration of our Savior’s birth. Merry Christmas!