There is no Easter without Good Friday. In between, there is time.

And waiting.

We know about waiting in the Time of Corona.

A friend sent me a beautiful meditation on waiting – and healing – this week (from author Joyce Rupp). “I wait and wait for something to happen and then I don’t even recognize it when it does happen. Healing takes a lot of patience and much time. Like a deep wound in the body that heals from the inside out, so with our healing. We may not always readily see the steady healing occurring, but we need to believe the mending is taking place. We may not be able to undo or fix the past, but we can be healed from what has wounded us. Today is a good day to remember that healing is a process, not a one-time event. Let us patiently approach the process of our inner healing with trust and with confidence.”

Is Easter a one-time event?

Yes – and no.

I’m thrilled for my beautiful friend Shan Foster and his lovely wife Ariele to stop in at Bacon this Easter morning with their testimony.

Hi, Shan and Ariele! 

All of our lives have been – upended. All our routines changed. How will you spend this Easter Sunday in the Time of Corona?

Shan:  I look forward to spending Easter Sunday with my wife, meditating on Jesus’ love for us, and how thousands of years ago, he died so that we may have life. Now more than ever it’s important that we pause and reverence the sacrifice that was made for us to live. The very air that we breathe we often take for granted, but not now. Now we’ve been forced to pause, to think, and most importantly remember that all we need is in Jesus.

Ariele:  This Easter Sunday will be spent watching our amazing Pastor preach virtually. We’ve been so blessed to be connected to a ministry that has been intentional about remaining relevant in a technologically advanced society, so our move to virtual only services has been relatively smooth. I also look forward to enjoying a delicious Easter Sunday meal and just reflecting on Jesus’ sacrifice for the remission of our sins.

How would you normally spend Easter?

Shan:  Normally we would go to church and have dinner afterwards with friends or family. Easter is like the Super Bowl for believers. It’s the most important day of the year. The day we reverence the life, the death, and resurrection of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus.

Ariele:  I agree with Shan. Easter is truly the Super Bowl for followers of Christ so we’d definitely be attending church service followed by brunch or dinner with family/friends.

What was your favorite thing about Easter as a child?

Shan:  My favorite thing about Easter as a child was the skits and speeches. The youth were always asked to perform and while I thought they were corny at the time, it made the stories about Jesus come alive for me. It connected me to how Jesus might have felt and how much He loved me. Most importantly, it taught me why Jesus died. At a young age I understood that Jesus died to save my life. He endured so much on His way to Golgotha. Things no other person would willingly do for anyone. But He did it because He loved me that much. His life wasn’t for Him, He was on assignment to save me.

Ariele:  My favorite thing about Easter as a child was getting an Easter basket. My mom and aunts always made the children these amazing Easter baskets, and I kind of wish I could get one now. Of course the contents would be different. My least favorite thing was the attire. My mom would dress me up in these big poofy dresses with lace socks and white shoes, but the crinoline in the dresses would drive me insane!

Will you see any friends or family today?

Shan:  Unfortunately, Ariele and I will likely FaceTime family on Easter. As hard as it may be, we believe that obedience is better than sacrifice. So we will remain at home, together.

Ariele:  We’ll definitely FaceTime family and friends to fellowship, but may also get to spend some time with my parents who live in the area.

What does daily life look like for each of you, in the workplace and otherwise?

Shan:  I’m VERY fortunate to have the ability to work from home during this time. I may be called upon to run errands for the Weaver Domestic Violence Center from time to time, but I’m mostly working from home. I’ve learned that I work harder from home than I do in the office. The only distractions at home are the ones I allow. That allows me to be more efficient and focused. It has been difficult personally though because I’m accustomed to attending events, meeting with clients, stakeholders, and donors. Working from home limits my ability to interact. However, things could be much worse, so I’m grateful for the opportunities I do have to connect with people virtually. That being said, I think this has brought our team closer together. Ironically, as individuals have dealt with personal and family struggles during this time, there has been more opportunity for us to support each other, check in, and show how much we care. It’s been a blessing.

Ariele:  I’ve been blessed to remain on staff and working while the remainder of my team has been furloughed for the time being. This has been an especially tough time for the hospitality industry, and most of my friends and former colleagues have been furloughed indefinitely, and many of their hotels have closed. Since my current hotel is still under construction I feel really lucky that we’ve only had to just our opening timeline. We’re blessed to safely work from home, but it has been challenging creating separation between work and home since the two exist in the same physical space for the time being.

Shan, what can you tell us about the work of the YWCA in the Time of Corona? How are you able to continue your work in the world with AMEND Together?

YWCA Nashville is the largest provider of domestic violence services for the state of Tennessee. We operate a large shelter that is full most days of the year. During Corona we have experienced a 55% spike in calls to our hotline. Our clients need us, and we’re committed to continuing to provide services during this pandemic. That comes with many difficult decisions being made and new challenges that no one could have prepared for. However, our staff have stepped up majorly. Some are working more hours to ensure our clients have all they need. Volunteers and board members have provided laptops for the children to continue their education, supplies for staff, water and food for all. As a non-profit organization we depend greatly on the generosity of others and the heart of this Nashville community is second to none. Simultaneously we cancelled our largest fundraiser, Spring Breakfast, and did a week-long virtual fundraising campaign. AMEND Together is in the process of moving our operations online to ensure our 600 young men are able to receive positive messaging around healthy masculinity and healthy relationships. We’re also planning to launch 7 affiliates in Dayton, Central Virginia, Lubbock, South Hampton Roads, Silicon Valley, Mohawk Valley, and Memphis. Lastly, we’ve begun a research project with Vanderbilt University’s Peabody School to provide research and evaluation for our curriculum. So as you can imagine, we miss our youth and are working hard to provide all the necessary resources possible during this time. Many of them are dealing with the double crisis of tornado recovery and COVID-19. While the path forward is hard, we have faith that the resilience of this community will rise to the challenge and we will prevail, TOGETHER.

What is your state of mind? Does it change a lot, day to day, or do you feel like you’ve settled in and adjusted?

Shan:  Honestly, I’m focused on providing hope and relief for family, friends, and colleagues. There are so many who look to me for guidance, so I just focus my efforts there. It helps to keep things in perspective. I can’t provide hope for others if I don’t believe there is hope myself. I lean heavily on my faith. Psalm 91 is my refuge. While professionally I can’t share my faith as much, I allow my faith to give me strength and discernment, which powers the advice and guidance I’m able to provide.

Ariele:  Currently, my state of mind is optimistic. I am intentional about finding the positive even in the midst of chaos, but that’s been harder than ever before. I have been leaning on my faith and my family and friends to help lift me up when I get down, but things are so uncertain so it’s been difficult to feel settled into any of it right now. I’m taking it all moment-by-moment and operating from a posture of gratitude.

What are you most worried about?

Shan:  I’m most worried about the day someone close to me loses their life to this virus. So far, those who have tested positive have all recovered. That will be a hard day if it comes. I’m trusting God that it won’t.

Ariele:  I’m most worried about myself or someone I personally know becoming ill with this virus. What’s being reported is absolutely terrifying and having family still in the New Orleans area is also concerning, but my daily prayer is that God’s will shall be done. I know that God will never give me more than I can handle and that Jesus is with me every day, so I’m leaning on those truths to help settle my worries.

What are you secretly or not so secretly enjoying about Life in the Time of Corona, if anything?

Shan:  I’m really enjoying the extra time with my wife. Being that we both are working from home we get to interact and enjoy each other’s company more than normal. With my career being so mobile I spend a lot of time away from home. It’s great to talk, share, express, and love on each other during this time.

Ariele:  I’m really enjoying having the time to care for myself and my husband. I’m enjoying being able to prepare meals for us without feeling drained or overwhelmed and we’ve really been spending some quality time together in the midst of it all. I’ve also enjoyed having some time for self care.

What’s the biggest hardship? What do you miss most?

Shan:  I miss connecting with people in person. I truly love people and love getting to know people professionally and personally. Going to dinner, lunch, coffee. Breaking bread with couples and learning about their history. I love sharing my work and the transformation that has taken place around the world as it relates to relationships and masculinity. I just miss people.

Ariele:  The biggest hardship has been the loss of perceived control. I feel like we’re in a free fall right now and anything is possible, and as a person who enjoys planning and working towards goals the uncertainty has been quite uncomfortable. I miss seeing my friends and colleagues. I miss going to restaurants. And although I’m an introvert, I do miss socializing (a little).

What has not changed at all?

Shan:  My faith hasn’t wavered at all during this time. In fact, my faith is strengthening when I think of all that could’ve happened, or should’ve happened. None of us are exempt. We’ve all sinned and fallen short. Yet, I’m still breathing. My family is safe. My home is intact. While I could find a million things to complain about, I truly have nothing to complain about at all.

Ariele:  My dedication to my family’s well being hasn’t changed, or may have even improved during this time. I was super thankful when hearing about all of the things we could be doing to strengthen our immune systems and realizing that those things were already in place due to my commitment to ensuring that we live whole healthy lives.

What are you reading and watching? What would you recommend?

Shan:  Ariele and I started watching this Netflix series called “All-American.” It parallels a lot about my life and experiences as an athlete. I’d also recommend everyone watch the movie “The Shack,” especially now. I can’t even put into words that experience I had with God through watching this movie the first time. It brought me to tears and provided so much perspective surround who God is, and more specifically, who God can be to me, if I’d just believe.

Ariele: I’d agree with Shan on this one. “All-American” has been a really good Netflix series that we started together. “The Shack” is a staple in our home and when all of this began we re-watched and as usual found a new revelation about God’s love for us, even during difficult times. My guilty pleasure was watching “Tiger King.”

Other forms of stress relief in the Time of Corona?

Shan: Listen to sermons. Read the Bible. Watch comedy shows and movies. Take walks. Take a ride. Ride a bike. Whatever you decide to do, have balance. Too much of anything will have negative consequences. Even if what you’re doing is positive. I tell people all the time, too much religion will make you unrelatable. So have some balance in what you do.

Ariele: Meditation. Yoga, stretching and moving my body. Lots of rest and drinking lots of water. Getting outside and enjoying the sun. Loving on our dog Nash, who I’m sure will hate us once we both return to work. Ultimately listening to my body and giving it what it needs unapologetically.

How do you think you will be changed by Life in the Time of Corona? Our society?

Shan: Life in the time of corona has given me time to think, and I now have great clarity about my purpose in life. My hope for our society is that we value each other more than we have in the past. It seemed that we had become so focused on what we want and blind to what others need. Wealth and resources are not distributed equally. Fact. Opportunity is not distributed fairly. Fact. Everyone is not safe at home. Fact. We would rather maintain our surplus than help those in poverty catch up. Also FACT. This was extremely evident by the purchasing of toilet paper and sanitizer over the last month. We’d rather hoard because we can afford it than only get what we need so others can have what they need as well. This is why Coronavirus had to come. And if we don’t learn this lesson and begin to do things differently something else will come after. Everyone who lives must die, but what is the purpose of one’s life? If wealth accumulated, material things collected, or career goals achieved is what comes to mind, this won’t be the last crisis we face.

Ariele: I think this major global event will change everyone’s trajectory in one way or another. It might be a change in career, or how we do business. I think we’ll all likely walk away a little more technologically savvy. I think major organizations will have to reconsider remote working. My prayer is that we all come away with this changed for the better in some way.

Thank you so much, Ariele and Shan. We have been blessed by you today. xoxo

Happy Easter! And Happy Passover! And Happy Spring, Bacon friends. xoxo

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