How to Creatively Persist at Life in the Middle of a Pandemic

The Middle.

Last week I dropped my oldest off for his first day of Middle School.

Since I’m someone who can still close my eyes and remember being in my 6th grade Keds sitting across a science lab table from none other than Zach Cook himself, it’s hard to believe we now have a preteen on our hands.

Back then Zach and I were in a club called “The Future Problem Solvers of America.” I don’t think we could have imagined the amount of problems there would be to figure out in the 21st century. Whoever developed that program for the bookend of Gen X must have been prophetic.

This year has sure presented it’s share of conundrums to get to the bottom of and although there have been difficult days and times, I have been encouraged to see my generation step up and persevere through these various trials. Guidelines and academic framework and alternative planning, oh my! We also can’t forget the valiant attempt at pivoting to remote learning on a dime in the Spring.

How do we thrive in the middle of a pandemic? How do we continue to create and persist in hard times?

In that spirit, I have several goals this year for my art students of all ages, creative problem solving being one of them.

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This week in class we read “The Beautiful Oops!” I highly recommend this book for all ages. It’s WONDERFUL!

It teaches how messes and mistakes can be made beautiful with just a little perspective and ingenuity.

I created pages and pages of random paint splatters and distributed them among my students after reading the book. They had to turn their papers different ways until they saw something to make out of the “oops!”

I was amazed at their creativity, positivity, and excitement over the project.

I also used this art lesson to tie into the Bible by sharing with them how God redeems and makes beauty out of our ashes.

I had originally planned just to do this with 2nd grade, but they loved it so much, I think I’m going to take it school wide to help remind the students at our school that beauty can always be found if we’ll just take a moment look again.

Action steps that are helping me process these days and continue to see beauty:

  1. Naming what I truly feel. Loneliness is top of my list this year. Not having anyone to turn to that has “been here before” has left me at a loss many days. Do I let my kids have a sleepover during a pandemic? How do I have a date night when my kids could get the grandparents/babysitter sick? Do I go on vacation or stay at home? I keep thinking this is God’s way of having me turn to Him as I should have been the whole time anyway.
  2. Reading testimonies from faithful people of the past. George Meuller’s prayer life is a go to for me during perilous times. Katie Davis is also an inspiration.
  3. Keeping open conversations and dialogue about how it really feels to go through these times with my family, friends, and co-workers helps me know I’m not alone in this (and neither are you). Showing grace to each other as we persevere through these days will be the ultimate testimony when we look back on these times.

    I hope this post helps you in some way. Stay safe, stay healthy, and keep your eyes on Jesus.

    -Emily