While the whole world was in a quarantine due to a pandemic, my life actually became a lot more peaceful. And I became aware that I had been in the state of continuous stress for 16-18 years.

My life did not have margins.

And I look around now and I realize why so many little things that seem normal to other people people, like consistently helping their kids learn to brush their teeth, slipped through the cracks.

This is a strange moment for me, because seeing margins in my life means that the continuous stress has subsided in a lot of ways. I’ve started having time to garden, do pottery, initiate new friendships, and play games with Leah.

My current struggle is to not look back at the last 16-20 years as a failure for all the things that fell through the cracks. It’s easy for me to forget that I was doing the best I could in that moment, even if important things didn’t get done.

I recently read this passage, about an Artificial Intelligence (AI) feeling guilt after the safety measures it took led to people getting killed.

Skeptical, Alex arched an eyebrow, then winced as the act tugged at the skin beneath the bulky interface. “You’re telling me the machine felt guilt?”

Her shoulders rose in a hint of a shrug.

“It’s the only word I have to describe what I saw. Once the students began dying it devoted an increasing number of cycles to studying how the deaths had occurred and how they might have been prevented—what different branching decisions could have been taken to result in another outcome. But because of the holes in its programming those branching decisions only led to outcomes it also deemed unacceptable.

By the time it was shut down it was burning 73% of its processes on fault analysis rather than on finding a solution for those still alive. It obsessed over its failure to the point of paralysis.”


Aurora Rising: The Complete Collection (Amaranthe Collections Book 1) by G. S. Jennsen

I never use the word ‘guilt’ for what I felt, but this description helped me realize that I also waste resources looking back on things I cannot change.

It’s hard to realize that you will never relive the days of your youth or your children’s childhood, and to move on.

Road trip 2021

We just had the best 11 days!

When our sweet Kaitlin got engaged, I knew Darin had to go to her wedding – she talks to him on the phone almost daily and he has ask me throughout the pandemic to go to Kaitlin’s house… which is in Ohio.

We had also been wanting to see some other friends up north.

Planning & Prep

We came up with this itinerary.

We considered getting an RV for this journey, but after replacing the transmission in my Chrysler Town & Country, we decided it was our best option.

In preparation, my dad and I built a travel dresser for my van, so we could store items without suitcases, and have a desk-like area next to Darin’s seat on the 3rd row.

This is the space on top for Darin’s stuff

I also made an art space for Arabella in the 2nd row captains chair.

This mesh shortage was rolled up the the window for easy access to all her Sharpies & pencils.
Her space was finished off by a headrest tablet holder.

Since we keep medication locked up for safety at home…

We used this tackle box with a lock to keep Darin safe as we traveled.

The Journey

We left on Tuesday, and drove 8+ hrs for 2 days.

On the 3rd day, we drove the final 3 hrs to pick up Holden in Columbus at the airport, and then to Dayton.

We stayed in a cute AirBnB with a huge window looking out onto gorgeous trees!

We got to see Kaitlin Thursday night, and then help her with tasks on Friday like picking up her bouquets.

The ceremony was down by the water… and Darin and I missed that part. He got very upset as we arrived at the wedding, but with so much open space he and I could explore, the rest of the guests were undisturbed.

After the wedding, we crashed! I always forget how much more energy it takes to be a parent away from home. From Tuesday-Saturday, I had not rested at all.

Sunday, we drove Holden to the Indianapolis airport on our way to Rochester, Minnesota.

We stayed in another great AirBnB, this one in the basement of a split level home.

On Monday, we went to Mike & Shay’s super cute house, and got to eat lunch with both of their grandkids Leona & Finley (and their parents of course).

A short time after lunch, both the kids headed for the door – ready to go “home” to the AirBnB. Thankfully, Mike & Shay were gracious enough to move the visit there.

It was a really wonderful day!

On Tuesday, we had our shortest travel day from Rochester to Kansas City. We drove straight to the home of Joey & Honey for dinner. They were new friends we made during the freeze in February when they needed a place to stay and took shelter with us. Honey made a wonderful Indian meal, the Fisk family joined us, and we all played games with the kids after dinner.

Then we went to another AirBnB, a town house. Darin was so excited to find that it has 3 toilets!

On Wednesday, we slept late! Hallelujah!

Then Julie, Aliza, and Oliver came over for the rest of the day. Aliza immediately joined Arabella in ‘her room’ for art.

Oliver and Darin kept Julie, Leah, and I company, when Darin wasn’t cleaning the whole house of course. Oliver taught me to play a live version of Minecraft where I was a Creeper, crawling around with my eyes closed to find him.

Josh joined us after work, and Darin entered silly mode.

The night ended with Darin leading us through his own worship service.

We left Thursday, hearts full from seeing so many people we love!

Corona-date: year 2, day 1

I’ve been filled with grief as the full year of COVID 19 socially distanced life arrived.

Life is so different for those of us who are trying to keep our most vulnerable family members safe.

In a way, there has been solidarity in the whole world being semi-mandated to be careful.

But as of yesterday, Texas has no more required cautionary measures in place – no more masks and businesses can open to 100%. This means we can continue to wear masks to keep our germs away from others, but the public will be pouring their germs out.

Now I really can’t take my special kids out.

We have dreamed of moving out of a neighborhood and onto land, and it’s started to feel like it’s not optional. Getting Darin & Bella back to community activities for pleasure or employment training isn’t happening soon…

I’m feeling the constant itch to have a place I can explore agricultural skills with both of them – raising plants and animals.

Corona-date: 351

COVID finally got into my house.

Holden, who spends, 98% of his life in his room, started feeling sick overnight Sunday… and slept through yesterday (Tuesday). He had nausea, aches, chills, etc… so we took him to the dr yesterday.

Got the POSITIVE COVID test results today.

Now for family quarantine.

Faith and stuff

Sunday’s are hard for me. This past year is the first time I haven’t gotten up and gone to church on a Sunday whether I like it or not.

Even this year, I’ve zoomed more often than not, because historically, church has been good for my soul.

But I can’t get myself to go through those motions today.

Most of the thoughts I’m wrestling through aren’t new – in fact, they were some of the driving reasons for planting a church in 2006:

  • The way church in America functions is more like a business than what I see in the Bible.
  • The leadership structure isn’t biblical and also echos the business world – leading to capitalist values vs Kingdom values.
  • Church without relationships is weird.

It seems like a ritual to watch a church service.

But it also feels so weird to have no connection to church.

Interesting update:

Leah and I are very in sync lately. I saw she posted this on Twitter the same day I wrote this post:

Corona-date: 348 – Marathon

The last 3 weeks have been a marathon with a nice 3-day break in the middle.

To prepare to leave town 2/8-2/12, I did tons of work the first week of February for my job, for my company, and for all the adults who were needed to support the kids while I was gone.

After a 3-plane ride travel day on 2/8, 2/9-2/11 were perfect. Leah and I relaxed, explored, ate nice meals, had a spa day. It was an amazing celebration of 20 year of marriage. Then we got exhausted again by 3-plane rides home on 2/12.

Only to spend the whole weekend fixing 2 plumbing leaks. All weekend.

So when snow-pocalypse 2021 brought the great freeze to Texas, I was running on fumes. My house was full of all my movable plants and Arabella’s school was cancelled.

Thankfully, our power stayed on. But all of our extended family lost their power, dropping the temp in their houses, leading to broken pipes. Ugh!

When it got super cold in their house, we got to have some overnight human and furry guests. This part was actually my favorite stuff. It was nice to have Uncle Brett and Sydni with their cats Socks and Tigger on Tuesday night, and then strangers-now-friends Joey & Honey with their dog Curry on Wed night. Brett and Sydni played board games with me, and Honey cooked Indian food for our lunch on Thursday.

By Friday morning, it felt like we hadn’t stopped moving since January…

Corona-date: 317

Last Friday, I found out the mom of 1 of Arabella’s girl squad tested positive for Coronavirus. 339 days into the pandemic, COVID-19 has made it into our inner-inner circle – the few non-family members we have seen regularly.

Since Friday, another mom tested positive, and today, one of the friends.

We haven’t seen them since 12/29/2020… but we had seen them about every 3 weeks prior to that.

This thing is strong and present.

I can’t let the guard down yet.

On 2/6, I was able to get the Pfizer vaccine through my employer, since they run long-term care facilities for individuals with disabilities.

Today, 2/21, Arabella got the Pfizer vaccine at Texas Children’s hospital.

I really hope this vaccine works.

Corona-date: 312… Precepts

I just woke up from a dream that reminded me of some really true things that I may have forgotten… so I’m downstairs writing at 7:30am on a Saturday.

In the dream, I ended up in a room with 2 men, only 1 of whom I can recognize – Darryl Harris, carrying around the shirt I designed for myself that says “Learning to study the Bible PRECEPT UPON PRECEPT changed my life.” (Darryl is my childhood best friend’s dad. They moved away in 6th grade and I last saw them IRL when I was 18 years old.)

I held up the shirt and told him, “Do you know about Precept bible study?”

He said, “No, tell me about it.”

I said, “It’s more of a technique than a specific study. We read through the Bible verse by verse, and we look at each word in detail.”

Then I said, “I have been studying the Bible this way for over 16 years. And everytime in my classes, if it was brought up to study Revelation, I would insist I need to finish the whole bible before I get to Revelation. But a couple years ago, my class started the 2-year dive into Revelation. Now I know that God knew I needed to know His character by the time 2020 arrived.” At which point, I was overwhelmed by tears.

At this point, my daughter spoke to me, pulling me out of sleep, so she could climb into bed to snuggle. As we snuggled, I was overwhelmed as I was in the dream… by a few thoughts: God knew 2020 was coming. On a large scale, I know that He has always know. But personally, He knew it in 2004 when I started Precept bible study in the short time I got to be off work after birthing Holden. He knew it each time Precept bible study was my ‘church’ as we led churches, moved around and had to find new local churches, and now in this time of COVID-19 social distancing.

So I started trying to really think about what Revelation told me about the character of God:

  • When things happen here on Earth, they are not independent of things God is doing in Heaven. He is not far from us.
  • God did not just “know” about the pandemic of 2020. He knows exactly how it fits in the overall plan for our existence.

I’m so thankful for these things.

Corona-date: 306 = 10 months

Ten months into the pandemic, many people continue to die and so we continue to be very cautious. And now all the hope is placed in 2 vaccines that have been released.
I am concerned that too much faith will be placed in them, and caution will be thrown to the wind.

At our house, we carry on very blessed. Our business and my employment have not been affected. Leah and I share the job of running the business and caring for the kids.

I have fallen so in love with growing plants that I made a place to catalog their growth and see how they are related. In mega-nerd style, I labeled each plant by Class, Order, Family, and Genus, making it easy to see which plants are closely related.

I also made a place to post my building and renovation projects.

Arabella continues to thrive between virtual school for her senior year, and Facetiming with her best friends in her free time.

Darin cleans my house daily, and goes to Umpapa & Oomama’s house 2x/week, then Mamaw & Mark’s house 2x/week. I can tell he is getting restless to go into the community more, but this is improving when the weather is nice enough to go outside alot.

Holden finished his GED in December, so he will be starting at community college this Spring. This 17th year is full of dreams of independence.

Corona-date: 184 = 6 months

It’s been 6 months since March 11 when social distanced life began.

Lots of things still don’t feel ‘normal’ even after 6 months.

It’s not normal for me to NOT hug people when I see them after awhile.

It’s not normal to only see a small circle of friends.

It’s not normal to NOT go to church or bible study.

It’s not normal for huge numbers of people to die.

It’s not normal for school to be virtual.