It’s been less than a week since our country started shutting down, due to the COVID-19 pandemic that’s spreading across the globe. How crazy that I just typed that sentence and it’s true. I feel sort of like I’m in this dream world- or movie, even- walking slowly, taking it all in. What I know to be true is that this will be something our grandchildren ask us about, and it’s surreal to experience it in real time, right now.

On the D-Day of panic (or Thursday, March 12th), there were a few things that started to stir in my heart. I wanted to write them down and share them with you, my readers, in hopes that these truths will echo deep into your soul, crowding out all the other junk that is in there right now. And I’m sure there is junk, my friend, whether you mean it to be there or not. Before the corona panic, I was already having one of the most emotionally draining weeks of my life, so I now find myself sifting through all the mess, trying to make sense our new normal. Maybe you’re there too. And even if you’re not, my prayer for you and your family in this crazy season is this: peace.

I married one of the most peaceful men on the planet. Nathan just exudes peace. He is never panicked, never in a rush, always intentional, always peaceful. I, on the other hand, was a hot dang mess when we got married, and his peacefulness was and is one of the things I love most about him. My hope is that by the end of my life, I can be as peaceful as he. (I have decades left to master this- hallefreakinglujah.)

He gets it from Jesus. Jesus has always been and will always be the Prince of Peace. And if He is the Prince, His father is the King- those are just the facts. Let that sink in a minute today: Jesus is the Prince of Peace. Say it to yourself over and over again if you have to.

God is also the Creator. You know this, I’m sure, but humor me a moment with a dive into some facts that we may be forgetting right now. God, our Father, The King of Peace, is creative. He created the world, He created angels, He created humans, He created sunsets. He creates- that’s just what He does. Satan, on the other hand, is a cocky snob who thought he was better than the very One who created him. Angels (don’t forget- Satan was an archangel!) were not created in the image of God- humans were. So humans get to be creative. But the angels- the warriors and servants- that’s not their job.

So this means that Satan? He’s not creative. Think on that for a minute. Satan just isn’t creative. And he honestly doesn’t need to be. He has the same tricks up his sleeve that he’s had from the beginning of time- to steal, kill, and destroy. And fear is one of his best tactics. It’s such a great tactic, in fact, that he doesn’t even NEED to be creative, because he found something that works and has been leaning on it for millennia. He’s not creative, but he IS smart. And cunning. And he doesn’t play fair.

Now let’s put that thought on a shelf for a minute. We’re going to come back to it, but close your eyes with me, pull the fear and panic and thoughts about Satan from your mind like taffy, and set them on a shelf in your brain.

What I really want to talk to you about today is peace. Years ago, Nathan and I made a decision to make peace a staple of our home. We’ve gone after peace with all that we are, kicking out chaos and establishing peace as a pillar on which we stand. We’ve done this by not over committing, facing our problems and dealing with them, praying for peace to be thick and tangible in our space, and trusting that, if we let Him, the Prince of Peace will reign as we follow His lead. Our biggest goal has been to cultivate a home we love to be in together- a refuge for us and for others. And our hope is that when anyone steps into our home, they would feel His presence and His peace.

There are gifts in even the darkest times if you know how to find them. I would say that a global self quarantine/isolation feels pretty dark to me, my friend. But what if there was a gift here that we’ve been missing? Please hear my heart when I say this: I don’t think God sent this sickness! And I completely believe that we need to follow the law of the land and stay away from others right now, so that we can give those who truly need it their best shot. How my heart breaks for those in our nation who have lost loved ones or are facing financial crisis. Please hear me- I am for you, and would love to know how we can serve you right now.

Wherever you find yourself today, what if we got to take this time trapped in our houses, to make our homes the absolute most peaceful places on the planet? What if we saw this time as a gift to reset, clean out the negativity, grumbling, panic, and fear, and replace all that junk with peace? Here are a few of the ways that could look for you:

  1. Put your dang phone down. I’ve felt it recently, the panic rising from my chest to my cheeks, swirling around and around in my brain. When I feel that panic or fear starting to set it, I literally just look up. I take a deep breath. I decide that more information doesn’t necessarily mean more peace right now, and I make myself busy with something I can actually fix. Like the dang pile of laundry that’s just staring me in the face.
  2. Start your morning by reading the Word. Ella has been begging to read our Bibles together lately, and I finally pulled my sleep-in-loving-butt out of bed to read with her as I drank my morning cup of coffee. Reading your bible with a 3 and 7 year old is not actually that peaceful, but I decided to do the whole Proverbs thing where you read a chapter for each day of the month. So today is March 17th, and I read Proverbs 17. Easy peasy. It’s amazing how much wisdom is packed into that book, and man do I need wisdom right about now.
  3. Turn worship music on in the morning. It’s amazing how much worship can shift an atmosphere. Just having it play in the background of chores or school time works wonders for us.
  4. Speak life over your family. My girls are in Whine Central Station right now- good grief. But instead of  adding to the chaos by yelling at them or causing more strife- I decide to speak life. “Emmy girl, great job using those kind words! What other kinds words can you say to Ella today?” “Ella, thanks so much for fighting FOR peace on this stay-at-home-day, you are making my heart so happy!” Your words can change the atmosphere of your home, my friend. Use them wisely. Build others up, don’t tear them down.
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  5. Do some yard work. There is nothing like pulling the weeds in your yard while you work out the weeds in your heart. Getting outside can really shift your mood and knock out the funk, and the fresh air is a great place to be right now.
  6. Take every thought captive. Facebook is not your friend right now. The news might also not be your friend right now. Whatever is causing you to lose control of your thoughts is not your friend right now. Fear will consume you if you let it, so don’t. If you have a thought you just can’t kick, do the exercise we did earlier together: close your eyes, pull that thought out of your mind like taffy- make sure you get it all- and set it on a shelf in your mind, or kick it clean out. Ask Jesus to come into your thoughts and help you sort through the mess. Ask Him to help you reach for peace instead of fear, and take captive your thoughts before they captivate you.
  7. Clean out your closets. I have SO MUCH CLUTTER in my house! And I have been gifted this crazy amount of time to do nothing but stay IN my house and get rid of the clutter I hate. When I clean out a space, it’s amazing how much peace it brings when things are in order. Kon mari here I come.
  8. Make memories. In ten to twenty years, when your children are asked what they remember from the COVID-19 pandemic, what are they going to say? Are they going to say that they were terrified, that their parents were a chaotic mess and that they thought they were going to die? Or are they going to say that it was the most peaceful, fun family time they can remember? We’ve told our girls limited things about the outbreak, because their young minds are just that: limited. We don’t have the news on, we are careful with our words, and we speak peace- out loud- at all times. If you are feeling fearful right now, that’s ok, it’s a crazy time. But my friend, don’t let yourself spiral out of control in front of your children. Talk about their fears and what they understand is happening right now, and always bring them back to the Word. If the very worst case scenario thing happens to your family, will God still be good to you? Will He help you through it? Will He sustain you and give you a hope and a future? Yes, yes, yes. Talk through things, but don’t you dare let fear win. We’ve ordered a snow cone machine so that our girls can make snow cones every day of this quarantine if they want to. Fear, you have no place here, #byefelicia.
  9. Check on your people. Isolation doesn’t have to be isolating. Reach out, ask how someone is doing, offer to run errands for your elderly neighbors. If we remember that we will only get through this together- we’re going to make it, friend. Get creative in how you can bless someone without spreading germs.
  10. Let peace rule your day. Is your grueling “Virus Homeschool Schedule” causing more conflict than peace? Throw it out. Are people making you feel pressured to suddenly be an on top of it human who has it all together? WHO NEEDS THEM. There are no rules or expectations of you right now, friend, except to take care of your family and rest. That’s it. When else are you going to get this opportunity to really unplug and connect? Don’t miss this just because you think you should be doing it a certain way. Find what works for your family and do it, the end. (Just in case you’re wondering, we’re not suddenly “homeschooling”. We have some “academic” activities for the girls to work on, but we’re not forcing it. What we are doing is playing outside a lot, observing the siesta, and getting ready for the launch of their favorite video game. Judge me if you want to- but it’s dang peaceful around here.)

Whatever you choose to do, just make sure that you’re establishing peace in your home. Maybe there’s a hard conversation you need to have. Have it. Maybe there’s a mess you need to clean up. Clean it. Maybe there’s a negative/fearful spirit that is controlling your every thought right now. Kill it. You are the creative one, my friend. You have the power to create a new feeling of peace in your home that will last for years to come. You have the power to overcome Satan’s dumb tactic of fear and speak peace instead. And you have the power to save lives right now by simply sitting on your couch and working on your family dynamics. We were created in His image to create and to foster His presence, what a gift that is. Don’t miss it.

Now my friend, it comes to you. What is the peaceful climate of your home lately? Has it been sucked dry, or is peace reigning and thriving? If it’s the former, what steps are you going to take to establish peace in your home today, right now, right here? What fear can you hand over to the Lord, and what expectation do you need to release?

Let’s say this prayer together over our homes, over our nation, and over the whole earth.

Jesus, how we love you. Today, we say no to panic and yes to peace. No to fear and yes to love. No to selfishness and yes to helping others. And yes to You, Lord. Yes to peace. Yes to Your presence reigning in our homes, and becoming contagious in our region. Fear and Chaos, you have no power here. Leave right now, in Jesus’s name. Jesus, Your peace is what we long for, Your presence is what we crave. Come heal our land and breathe a fresh new life into our souls, our bones, and our homes. We dedicate our homes to You now, Lord, come settle the storms and fill this space with Your love.

We trust You. You are good. You are near. Heal our land!

Amen and amen.

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