God has a sense of humour and sometimes we wonder just how quirky it is. Much like we chuckle when our own kids fumble forward in life, we imagine Him having a good laugh watching us rant, rave, and learn.
By February 2020, life in Thailand was shifting as COVID was making it’s global debut. As the world wondered what would happen, we welcomed our fourth child. She was born into a reality so markedly different than the one her older siblings were welcomed by. With the turn of the month to March, Thailand entered a lockdown that ushered in a national curfew, age restrictions on who could leave their home, the end of domestic travel, and the closure of the international border. These things combined were overshadowed by the closure of schools and the move to online learning.
A newborn, a toddler, and two children doing online schooling greeted us each morning much like starring down the barrel of a shotgun loaded with confetti, emotions, and unending calls for snacks.
Typically we have a lovely lady who helps us at home, but as a mom to her own kids, we asked her to stay home for her sake and ours. We weren’t panicked, but so much was unknown about the virus and with a newborn, we figured it best to be a socially distanced island of 6 people.
“Stretched but not broken” became our response whenever people asked how we were.
The challenges were real and we admit to stress eating brownies for breakfast while trying to teach grade 3 math. Our kids’ teachers, who may need to be canonized, received many-a-text asking for tips on how to tackle numeracy while battling the impulse to run headlong into a wall.
Like so many churches, our home church had transitioned to online only. Our children’s program was now in new and uncharted waters. Our kids team rallied and we put a plan in motion to explore a theme for our online lessons. And what did we choose? The Fruit of the Spirit!
That’s right – in the midst of these “unprecedented times” we were weekly preparing lessons on subjects such as peace, patience, kindness, and self-control…
This is divine humour.
The comedy was real as we prepared video scripts, lesson plans, worked with Thai friends to make sure the language worked in English and Thai, and edited videos for the kiddos. They may have been the intended audience, but we learned just as much as the children did.
Lockdown brought wonderful opportunities – like getting to know our newest member in generous swaths of time together. It was also a massive challenge and we often found ourselves somewhere south of our last nerve.
In those moments, God would chuckle and remind us to have joy. There were big questions about the future, and God smiled and reminded us to have peace. There were less than gold-star parenting moments and God nudged us to dig deep for gentleness.
God is funny. He has a sense of humour. In a time of stretching, pulling, and near-breaking, we were called back to basics: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control.