How different our world looks than just a couple of months ago! It is so staggering, it can definitely make your head spin. For most, we are still in the middle of various struggles, and we can’t see any end in sight. There is also no way to adequately express our condolences to all of the families across America who are still suffering, heavy with grief for their loved ones who have passed from this unseen enemy. But I hope each of you will join me in lifting up these precious families in prayer as they walk through this road of sorrow.

Of course, none of us know what the future will hold. COVID-19 has been no respecter of persons. Even if you were spared losing a family member, this has definitely been the most disruptive moment in our lifetimes. All of a sudden, as a nation, we’ve learned what the word inconvenience really meant. Who knew toilet paper was so indispensable? But I’m an optimist, and I can’t help but wonder if it could be possible that good might also ultimately come from this time.

Reflecting on that possibility, I’ve thought about a newfound freedom in our lives, a lack of distractions. When you aren’t planning for the latest concert, movie, or sporting event, it certainly frees up your schedule. Since haircuts, pedicures, and manicures, along with dental cleanings and checkups have also been postponed, the result has been more free time! Since we often find ourselves wishing for more free time, it could be that a lot of people got their wish. I’ve also noticed that facing the unknown and not knowing who might get COVID-19 seemed to spark increased communication amongst family and friends, often with long-overdue words of affirmation, as we slowed-down, looked around, and evaluated the most important aspects of our lives and who made our life better together!

While staying home and practicing social distancing has been hard, options for online grocery ordering, video/phone calls, and schooling for children or grandchildren have made it more doable. Being together as families has also uncovered some areas for improvement. For example, many previously ate the same exact meals each week. In fact, one source reported that 13% of families ate the same meals weekly for the last decade. Since different colored fruits and vegetables provide diverse types of polyphenols and antioxidants, variety in our diet can be one key to better health. (To read more on this topic, follow this link to an interesting article on reasons for diversity in the diet.)

Because of sparse grocery shelves during COVID-19, families have begun to reclaim foods that were previously lost in their cabinets, refrigerators, and/or freezers!  My favorite site for matching ingredients on hand to great recipes is called Fridge-to-Table, which is definitely the most user-friendly option I’ve found.

 Fridge-to-Table also offers the ability to choose a particular type of plan, such as Paleo, to narrow your search. Though they don’t offer a Keto option, Paleo is close enough to be a great source. Many have also begun to explore the basics of cooking with their kids during this time at home together. In a previous article, I described a couple of pediatric endocrinologists and their research about how to improve your child’s nutritional status, who also recommend cooking as a family to get buy-in from the kids.

What if involving your children in food preparation could even decrease their tendency to be a picky-eater? According to Dr. Mike Dow, author of the Sugar Brain Fix, in countries around the world where children are involved in handling the raw food source prior to eating, those societies don’t have the problems with selective food syndromes we have here in America. So if children help grow it, pick it, or even go to the store and choose the produce, and then help prepare it, they become more connected to the food. Sounds like a win-win situation!

So I would ask you, what is in your hand, your cupboard, your closets? How could you use what you already have to bless your family, friends, or community? Maybe the gift is as close as the time you will spend with your precious children, doing simple things they will never forget. One local principal, in the midst of this changing educational climate, sent a survey out to all of his elementary school children, who were now online. He asked one question, “When you go to college years from now, what will you remember about this time of COVID-19?” When he got his replies, in almost every response, there was one common word: family. “Spending time with my family.” “Eating dinner as a family.” “Playing board games with my family.”

In my upcoming articles, I will continue to unravel this topic, as we all seek to find something good that could come out of this time of unprecedented challenges. I hope that each of you, dear PLAID sisters, will be strong and courageous, reflective of the spirit of the pioneer women from the 19th Century who learned how to make do with what they had, even if they had to tear off a strip of their petticoat to bandage a wound and use ashes from the fire to make soap to cleanse the wound. There will definitely be wounds from this pandemic, but realizing we are better together can result in many benefits! Can you see any beauty rising from these ashes? As you ponder that question, enjoy this beautiful song originally performed by Susan Ashton (and later Crystal Lewis), Beauty from Ashes, describing this process.