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Quarantine and Read

Updated: Apr 11, 2023

Quarantine in NYC was hard.


All 85 days of it.


Responsibilities included, but were not limited to:


  • Juggling the kids' 3 different zoom schedules and keeping track of their daily assignments.

  • Teaching 5 of my own classes remotely.

  • Cooking (and cleaning up) 3 to 4 meals a day (these kids are always hungry!)

  • Washing everyone's clothes as soon as we walked through the door from the outside world.

  • Getting in our daily exercise with our (3-5 mile) walks through the neighborhood.

  • Checking in on our family members to make sure everyone was healthy and coping.

  • Watching the news to stay informed, but knowing when to stop it once it got to be too much.

  • Wiping down the surfaces of our home nightly.

  • Worrying about the virus.

  • Dropping to my knees in the middle of just about any of it to thank God for his hedge of protection around all of my family and friends - soaking myself in Philippians 4:6-7,

and then, waywardly worrying some more,

and then praying some more.


Then, at the end of each night, after tucking everyone in, sharing our nighttime prayers, and bracing for the unsettling, unpredictability of the following day, I would put my feet up and fill my mind with newfound hope from the pages of books (written by many of my favorite Christian authors*) that I had been putting off reading for years prior.


Looking back on it all, it seems astonishing that there was even any time to read, let alone breathe. But on the flip side, all there really was, was time! Reading quickly became my sanity during the sheer and utter chaos of quarantine. Amidst lesson planning, loads of laundry, scrubbing pots, phonecalls, texts, and tons of emails, I made sure to find some quiet time for myself to take in, even if just a chapter, or a few pages at a time. It was the only way I knew how to unwind and keep myself grounded. In fact, I believe it's the only thing that kept me from completely unraveling into a heap of unrecognizable, anxiety-stricken mush.


My nightly reading encouraged me with timely scriptures and fed my soul with the promises of God that I so desperately needed to be reminded of during this incomprehensible time. More importantly, though, this newly formed habit led me back to the most important book of all - the Bible itself.


I don't know who out there is like me, but I'm a very active reader. I underline important text, jot down notes in the margins, fold down pages for future reference, and seek out additional sources when I feel I need more context.


It was April, when I was on my second book and pondering the whereabouts of Paul as he wrote his letter to the Philippians, when I realized that I hadn't reached for my own personal Bible in over a year.


Ever since I downloaded the Bible app onto my phone, I'd been relying on its "Word of the Day" - a literal single verse of scripture - to deliver to me what I thought was enough of a daily dose of God's word. Sure, I have read the full chapter now and again, finished some more in-depth plans, even earned some badges for the number of verses I highlighted in the few minutes a day I was devoting to reading the Word off my phone. I was proud of myself for stepping into the new era of receiving God's word. I felt resourceful.


It wasn't until my quarantine reading that I realized that I'd been skimping on the Word - and cheating myself - big time.


Now, don't get me wrong. I still love and utilize my Bible app daily. I love the fact that it has tracked my devotion and growth over the course of the past two years.

  • Longest streak:197 days

  • Straight weeks: 90

  • 2020 to date: 212 out of 217 days

  • Completed plans: 30

That's commendable to say the least.


But once I took my own Bible off the shelf, I became immersed in it. A quick five minute morning check-in with God turned into 20 or 30 minutes of complete daily devotion. Uncoincidentally, about three weeks into quarantine, and a few days after really opening my heart back up to the Word, I was invited to join a weekly Bible study via Zoom. I'm now on that call twice per week. I went from an average of 35-60 minutes per week in the Bible app to what's now well over three hours per week in the Good Book. Talk about a life change.


It took the world being turned off to get me to wholeheartedly turn back to God in His word.


While I'm a little embarrassed to admit that, ultimately, I can't be anything but grateful for it to have happened. I also have to believe that it couldn't have just been me who experienced this individual revival. There have to be many out there who dusted off their Bibles and turned back to God in fervent prayer - perhaps like they've never prayed before - for this virus to pass us over, for quarantine to end, for a cure to be developed, for our loved ones to be safe, for things to go back to normal, for us not to be forgotten. And if you haven't yet, maybe now is the time.


My heart still remains so heavy for the hundreds of thousands of people who I know really suffered horribly through this time; for those who were so much worse off than I was. I know families who have lost loved ones. I know others who had loved ones on ventilators, and are still counting the days until they fully recover. I had my own family members who were working in the hospitals, treating COVID patients and witnessing firsthand the devastation it was causing. None of their lives will ever be the same. And I don't think mine will either. How could it possibly ever be?


I believe this time in our lives will forever serve as a basis of comparison. From now on, we will speak of things as having either taken place before Covid or after Covid. And hopefully, as we process it all, we can muster up some gratitude for it, in the sense that the fragility of life and time can no longer be taken for granted. It's time to open our hearts - and our Bibles - to get into that daily relationship with the One who is, and was, and always will be - for as long as it takes to sink in that He is with us, He has not forsaken us, and He is still on the throne. No matter what we face in this life today, He continuously offers us hope for a better tomorrow. (see Hebrews 10:23)


I could speak more on this topic, but I think I will end it here. It's time to go put my feet up and read a bit, Bible in tow.


*For those interested, my quarantine book list included:

  • Max Lucado's Be Anxious for Nothing

  • Joyce Meyer's The Battle Belongs to the Lord

  • Lysa TerKeurst's Uninvited

  • Donna Partow's Becoming a Vessel God Can Use

  • Sheila Walsh's The Storm Within

  • Patricia Raybon's I Told the Mountain to Move: Learning to Pray so Things Change

  • Indescribable by Louie Giglio and Matt Redman


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