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lessons from COVID-19

As I sit here completing my junior year of college at home due to COVID-19, I can’t help but reflect on my life before this pandemic and what it means now. The new obstacles I face have allowed me to see that this is just another reminder that thankfully, “this world is not my home”. God was with me every single day before all of this, and I can see Him at work now.

Right now, I feel a lot of emotions that have changed over the course of this pandemic. At first, I was excited that my spring break got extended and that I would be able to stay at home and work on my classes in the comfort of my pajamas. In my K-12 years I would occasionally ask my parents to let me do online school, so now in college I thought this would be my time to shine! But as classes started again, anxiety creeped in. I soon learned that I learn best through seeing and doing rather than just watching and this new method of education, though still a blessing, was not ideal for me. I have had to learn a lot of self-discipline, time management, and how and when to ask for help, just to name a few.

This semester isn’t even over yet, and I can already see how God has shaped me during this time in regard to college and as a person. For starters and most importantly, I am growing in my relationship with God. With more time on my hands and the lack of an hour long commute every day, I have been cherishing my mornings in the Word. I try to wake up early, have breakfast, and then grab a cup of black coffee and my bible. I am on a plan to read the bible in a year which helps me have a strict plan and intentions for my daily bible reading. There have been days (even today… whoops) that I forget or neglect my mornings with God, but I try to give myself grace and complete it sometime during the day.

That’s another lesson I’m learning right now: giving myself grace. A month ago, my life was extremely structured. I would wake up at the same time every day, go to class, have the same lunch, come home and have dinner and then ride horses. Sunday’s and Wednesday’s I had church and the other days were dedicated to school and horses. That has all gone out the window now. Church is online, school is online, and family time is online. My structure that I learned to lean on and crave is gone, and I am now a lot more accountable for my time and actions. I have failed at this responsibility and neglected things I shouldn’t. Soon after, shame and anxiety come knocking on the door. But rather than get caught up in distress, I am learning to ask God for forgiveness and guidance and get back on my feet to do something I can do right now. Action, in any form, is what I am trying to get better at. And the perfectionist in me is learning to chill out a bit!

My 21st birthday is also during my state’s “stay at home” order. This isn’t a huge deal to me, but it will definitely be a birthday to remember! I will most likely get my free coffee from Caribou and celebrate with my parents & family over a Zoom call. This is just another reminder to me that I will think back on this time and my 21st birthday and hopefully remember all of the things it taught me.

Overall, COVID-19 has reminded me of the most important things in my life. It also taught me that I am not as in control of my life as I think. I am grateful to be quarantined at home with my parents, but I miss my extended family and my spiritual family. I miss competing with my horses that I and my parents dedicate so much time and energy to. But, I have grown in my relationship with God and have seen Him at work in so many ways. I have reached out to people I would normally not connect with.

I pray that I never forget what I have learned during this time. It’s not over yet, and I hope that I continue to use this time as an opportunity to grow even more. Even though this is a hard time for most, there is also a lot of good that is happening. And if anything, this is a unique opportunity that we may never get back. How are you growing during COVID-19?

you oughta smile

“Life is short. Smile while you still have teeth!”

Mallory Hopkins

I love this quote because it’s so true and it’s a great visual, too. It’s also part of the reason why I named this blog “smiley with Ellie”. When I think back on some of the most joy-filled, exciting, monumental moments of my life, smiling was definitely included. If you’re still not convinced why smiling is so great, here are ten reasons to smile according to

  1. Smiling makes us attractive
  2. Smiling relieves stress
  3. Smiling elevates our mood
  4. Smiling is contagious
  5. Smiling boosts your immune system
  6. Smiling lowers your blood pressure
  7. Smiling makes us feel good
  8. Smiling makes you look younger
  9. Smiling makes you seem successful
  10. Smiling helps you stay positive

Now that we both know that smiling offers us physical benefits, lets see what God has to say regarding a joy-filled heart,

“This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it” (Psalm 118:24 ESV)

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” (James 1:17)

“A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” (Proverbs 17:22)

These verses show that God has given us so many reasons to smile and that it’s good to recognize these gifts! When I consider the times when I smile the most, they are usually around people I love. That type of community is one I hope to create here on my blog. I’m excited for this journey to grow closer to God, build a community, and smile along the way!