Phew! Remember back when I said that January was the longest month? I take everything I said about January back. I honestly feel as if March was a marathon of a month. A LOT HAPPENED and A LOT CHANGED. January, I’m sorry for all the things I said about you. I love you. I miss you.
March began with a celebration of my dear friend (and MP Creative + Content Director) Ashley. On the morning of her birthday, Selah and I went over to her house for breakfast to enjoy some avocado toast, kolaches, and coffee. Our love language is quality time and yummy food, 100%.
The last restaurant our family sat in was The Olive Garden (before social distancing and take out began). We had a gift card and decided it would be fun to go out to eat as a family. Anyone else missing going out to eat and sitting down at a restaurant?
The next morning, our family went to Tallulah Gorge State Park to go camping with some friends. It turned out to be a trip that was so far away from what we originally planned. There were some moments that we couldn’t help but laugh. The common theme was, “Go with the flow and enjoy what we have.” We choose our attitude with plans that change, which are very much out of our control. I think that weekend taught me that while it’s okay to feel disappointment or grieve changed plans, we aren’t supposed to stay living in that pit of discontentment. I don’t know how else to describe this other than the joy of the Lord the Bible talks about. The kind I read about in Scripture that doesn’t make sense given the circumstances. That’s exactly the feeling the entire weekend. Camping was so, SO good. Philippians 4:8 says, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable if there is any excellence if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” This is a perfect way to allow the Holy Spirit to renew our thoughts, going from disappointment and moving us towards a heart of joy and gratitude for all of the good.
We slept in a tent during 25-degree weather, the hike was mainly on steep stairs, we had the longest car ride just to be on site for about 36 hours, and one of the nights the children were up crying… all of that and I promise you it was one of my favorite weekends. None of that other stuff mattered to me, because I was camping with my people. It was full of silliness, laughs, yummy quality time and all of the (25-degree weather) snuggles.
What a lesson that it is not the situation, change of plans or anything else outside of our control that causes us to react; it is the state of our hearts and our willingness to choose to see the good that we have. Praise God for these people and the joy we had, regardless of the plans that changed. Now… I say all of this and I was faced with the same conflict at the end of the month. It wasn’t as easy to remember this lesson then.
Then … COVID-19. The very first case in Florida was actually detected on March 1st, but I don’t think people (including myself) knew the severity of this. At the beginning of this month, to me at least, the precautions didn’t match the gravity of the situation. I’m sure that’s a part of the reason how the virus multiplied so quickly. Soon after this weekend, things started to shift with the spread of the virus. By mid-March, the CDC urged that Florida cancel events of 250 people and above. Hand washing quickly became an Olympic sport and finding toilet paper felt like finding a rare treasure.
Before everything began to close, I was able to finally visit Kelly Rock Springs for an engagement session! I fell in love. While these images look like we were alone at the springs, these two lovebirds were surrounded by flocks of high school spring breakers splashing around.
I second shot for Kim again this month. I love watching her do her thing. The wedding changed from a ceremony and reception at the church to a friend’s front porch ceremony and a backyard reception. This was the last large event we had before the order to cancel/reschedule events of 50 or more. Thankfully, we had a slower season this spring, so not many weddings had to be rescheduled, but I did have to walk through uncharted territory as I navigated how to do this. It has felt surreal to experience something that the rest of the world is experiencing at the same time.
Since our wedding ended early, I was able to celebrate with Ashley at her birthday party that evening. We set up a delicious picnic dinner in her backyard under market lights and we watched the movie Hook under the stars. It was such a great night finally being together to celebrate her and what she means to us.
One afternoon this month, I had the pleasure of visiting a flower farm on the outskirts of Gainesville! I took my film camera and followed around Mariana from Iron and Clay through rows of rows of beautiful flowers. Oh my goodness, BE STILL MY HEART! It was such a neat experience to see where and how the magic begins…
An unfortunate moment mid month was getting the call that my dearest uncle passed away suddenly from a heart attack. That night, I felt such a shock that I sat in silence for about 30 minutes with my brother at the news. I didn’t really talk about it until the next day. I felt so loved by a friend who came over with my favorite meal and just sat with me as I talked to her about what happened. That was a part of the comfort supplied by the Lord to me. Another part of the comfort was the joy I experienced when I went home to be with my family. My brother, Selah and I went to West Palm to reunite with my family and have a private funeral. It was actually one of the sweetest times I’ve had with my family. We grew up pretty close to my mom’s siblings, so this sudden loss felt a little unreal to me. I almost felt at awe, as I sat with my siblings, witnessing another set of siblings grieve a loss. While there were tears, we laughed and a lot. We were with each other the ENTIRE TIME. It helped to have Selah there to lighten us, too. One night, we even got to share my uncle’s favorite date night cheesecake with my aunt. There can be joy, even while grieving.
I think this was the first time in years that it was just the 5 of us, the original Molliners. So we picked up Rummikub and played a couple of rounds. While we play games with our friends all the time, this was the original game night for me.
Selah had A LOT of big moments this month. While we were in West Palm, we had to rush to the hospital because she was having trouble breathing, gasping for air and even staring off into space. She tested negative for any virus but did have extreme congestion that was clogging her airways. After we saw the doctor, she was back to her normal self. In other, more uplifting updates… Selah had her two bottom teeth pop out! She is THE CUTEST when she smiles! She finally likes pureed food (still no avocados). Another milestone was that she learned to crawl and pull herself up this month. I wasn’t ready for that one, especially working from home.
With the virus spreading more, plans changed some more. Greenhouse microchurches moved ONLINE! I didn’t know how we could possibly continue community, through Zoom, but it works! I’ve been having a lot of Facetime breakfast dates and Zoom Bible studies! Thankful for a community of people that push through unusual times in order to stay connected to each other and the Word. It is no coincidence that we are studying Philippians together, as Paul talks about the joy in unity, especially in difficult circumstances. (Phil 1:3-5, Phil 2:2-4)
Office hours and weddings have been rearranged this month. While I’m thankful for the Lord’s protection in the fact that we were able to reschedule weddings, I’m also grateful that we were able to have a small part in smaller events, like a vow renewal and an intimate, elopement-styled wedding right before events began to be canceled. Groups of more than 10 people were not allowed, as social distancing regulations updated because the spread became even more serious. Even in the midst of changing venues, radically reducing invite lists and being stripped of details, these couples were reminded that what is important is … them. The feeling of just having each other is enough of an emotion that overcomes the frustration and stress of changed plans. *Don’t worry, the only kind of hugs I gave were distanced air hugs
… I also got to witness a couple celebrate 10 years of marriage together. Please drool along with me over the talent behind this romantic, spring bouquet that my girl Jenna from BAUGhaus made.
… and sigh along with me over the treasure of this mother-son first look.
Then, the same week as the vow renewal, Alachua County went under a stay at home order, where only essential businesses were open and people were advised to only leave their homes for essential things. Things began to get way more quiet around our little town. Since I work from my home, my office space didn’t change because of COVID-19… but the number of coworkers grew by two. The challenge of working from home with no childcare began (again). This was where I had to revisit that lesson I learned from the beginning of the month. “It is not the situation, change of plans or anything else outside of our control that causes us to react or sin; it is the state of our hearts and our willingness to choose to see the good that we have.” This was more of a challenge for my heart to find the joy in my attention being divided vs the change of plans from camping. Friends, trying to work full-time hours at home while you have children at home is hard. Hard because you are juggling all of the things at once. Air high fives to all of the parents that are homeschooling while working from home this season. While it may be hard for me to balance my time, it is really yummy to have my snuggles. (But seriously, Jesus… halp!)
Wayne spent one week at home this month. His internship changed because of COVID and he was waiting for his job to let him know how they were bringing him back on. With him at home, we arranged a new schedule for our family. I worked for the first half of the day and he studied/did homework for the second half, each of us sharing the responsibility of the home and kids. I bought a kiddie pool (mainly for myself, I’m not going to lie) and I would spend the second half of my day at the pool with the kids. Best $20 I’ve spent all year!
Hoping for a less eventful, but more joyful April as I focus on Philippians 4:8 and stay home.