Notes from the Bunker: Stories from Isolation

By May 1, 2020

It’s hard not to talk about the state of the world right now. This pandemic will undoubtedly change the way the world operates for years to come. What we are all collectively experiencing will transform each and every one of us in one way or another regardless of age, race, creed, or political affiliation. Experts suggest that this could be one of those moments we look back on in the history classes of the future as a major turning point in our existence as humans the same way we examine moments like the industrial revolution, major world wars, the moon landing, and September 11.

But what we experience as individuals during this trying time is just as important as our collective experience. How we all interpret and live out this pandemic is as varied and unique as we are.

While this pandemic will undoubtedly alter the lives of toddlers, it will alter them in a completely different way than it will alter the lives of adults or teenagers.

This week, we interviewed Holly Toulouse, longtime FUMCFW member and mother of five ranging in age from 3 to 21, to see how she and her brood are holding up during this time of quarantine.

Being a mother of five is difficult under the best of circumstances, but Holly is one of those moms who always makes it seem effortless. When asked about her family’s time together in quarantine, Holly hesitantly says, “We’ve actually really loved it. I mean, how blessed to be able to say that during this time. But we have really leaned into this quarantine and the true uninterrupted family time.” Holly explains that her older two girls, Laura and Kate attend Grace Prep and their usual curriculum consists of a few days of homeschool each week, so the transition to schooling at home was a smooth one.

However, she says that usually spring is such a busy season for them, and this forced slow-down that the pandemic has brought has been a real gift. “It’s made me really take a look at what our ‘normal’ looks like and whether or not that’s how we should be living.”

Noting that the combined pressure of school, sports, theatre, ballet, preschool is a lot for these kids. Holly says with a chuckle, “It’s a wonder we were ever home at all before all this! It felt like we were always driving somewhere.” Holly is typically a major planner – out of necessity – however, she explains that their kitchen calendar, which is normally chock-full of color-coded sticky notes and littered with events, is completely bare now.

“It’s a nice feeling, really, knowing you have nowhere to be but right here. What a blessing.” She continues, “I hope and pray that as a society, we all take a look at how much pressure is on these kids and their parents having them attend one million afterschool activities. I think we really need to ask ourselves, ‘How did life used to look like and how do we want it to look like after all this is over?’”

How do we want life to look like after this?  That is a challenging and thought-provoking question. Time will tell how this chapter in history will go, and if we choose to embrace the change that quarantine has brought or leave it behind in the annals of history.

Regardless of the pandemic, your First Church family is here and there are so many different ways of staying connected right now, from morning devotionals to nighttime prayer groups, grace groups, together time with Mister Mark, Instagram games with the Youth and everything in between.

Maybe you’re like Holly and have been embracing the downtime, or maybe you long for the days when we will again be busy bees, buzzing all over town. Regardless of where you are on this, let’s all take a cue from Holly and just notice the differences in your pre and post-pandemic life; you may be surprised at the hidden blessings you may discover in your own life!



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