42 days . . . I reached 42 days before I broke.

In beautiful Southern California, we continue to live the quarantine life. My three boys continue to try learning with mom and dad as their teachers. My wife Celia keeps us all sane while at the same time running a company remotely.

As for me, I work from my office as much as possible. In some ways, the church is busier than before but in many different ways. The pastoral team continues to dive into the virtual world innovating, working, moving, filming services and posts.

But, 42 days! I made it 42 days. If you are anything like me, being stuck indoors is the equivalent of being snowed in – fun for a couple of days, but it quickly gets boring. I noticed my temper was getting shorter and shorter, my ability to see any and all flaws in my family and myself were heightened, and my need to find a place of solitary confinement was overwhelming. It is hard to extend grace over and over in our new quarantined life.

I knew one thing – that at the end of this COVID-19 quarantine, I wanted to look back and remember that it was one of the most joy-filled times in our home. But we needed to make some changes for this to happen. So, for 42 days we made it through a structured routine: wake up, exercise, get ready, school work, real work, lunch, exercise, more school work, creative time, chore time, screen time (hallelujah!), dinner, family time, struggle to make it to until 8:00 pm for bedtime. Wake up and repeat.

42 days of this routine. I really thought things were going well . . . until 15 minutes into day 43. I have a history of back issues, with two surgeries under my belt. Day 43 of exercising regularly was the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. I was done. My back wouldn’t let me continue. I needed help. This quickly disrupted our family routine.

It was this moment of frustration and pain that caused me to go back and reevaluate the routine that we were strictly adhering to. Was something missing? Yes! I had all the time and flexibility in the world, yet I had overlooked one of the most basic and life-giving practices, one that I knew my family needed.

My kids are young, squirrely, and extremely active. Getting them to sit down and focus is something that requires a lot of patience and even more bribing (great parenting happening over here!). Because of this, our morning devotions were usually really quick. A verse or prayer, while we were scarfing down breakfast before running out the door, was usually as good as it got.

Discipling my own kids had become more of an “in the moment” kind of thing. It’s somewhat ironic how I am intentional about disciplining other peoples’ kids, but with my own, it was much more difficult. Have you noticed this with your own children? (And I never lost my patience when they got distracted or asked for a snack . . . not once. :))

Something needed to change.

The first thing Celia and I did was to re-evaluate what was really important to us. Was time with God more important than schoolwork or creative time? Yes. Was memorizing verses more important than memorizing the Bill of Rights? Yes. How do we prioritize the really important things?

Being a pastor, I feel like I am always walking a fine line between too much/not enough Bible with my kids. I want them to develop their own love for God’s Word, not build up resentment for forced time. One of my mentors has helped me walk this fine line. He has reminded me time and time again that, “God equipped YOU to parent your child, to love your child, to educate your child. God granted YOU the ability to parent them in the grace and love of the Lord Jesus Christ.”

We are starting small, with very minimal expectations.

Our goal is to simply create the space in our day for our boys to have time with God. (I recommend strong coffee and full bellies before sitting everyone down to begin.) Maybe the way I do morning devotions (which includes memorizing different Psalms and lots of drawing pictures) isn’t for everyone, but it is my best attempt at developing young men who understand God’s grace and His deep love for them.

Is this a time for you to consider adding in an eternally significant routine into your quarantine day?

Maybe this is the time to firm up or reestablish your connection to Christ. Establish or re-establish a routine of prayer, reading your Bible, and worship with your family. Sometimes having a good routine gets in the way of having God’s best routine for you and your family. This was true of my family.

Cheers to day 43 and beyond as we live in quarantine grace!

David Newkirk
Next Generation Pastor

P.S. If there is any way I or one of the other shepherds here at Church of the Open Door can pray for you or assist you as you think about how to bring more of God’s love and grace into your family’s quarantine days, please reach out! We would love to help.

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