Shelter in Place – A Time for GREAT Growth!

I’ve been trying to use my recent downtime constructively. On Saturday, March 28th I began feeling ill with flu-like symptoms and spent most of the weekend in bed. I contacted my doctor Monday morning to learn they were very backed up, the waiting room wouldn’t be a safe environment for me, they were currently out of COVID19 test kits and reserving them for people whose symptoms are worse than I reported. I was instructed to self-quarantine for 14 days, drink plenty of fluids, take Tylenol for the aches and fever, and go to the ER if I felt it needed. I had to take last week off work with 4-5 days spent mostly in bed dealing with what felt like a bad flu. After about the 5th day I could tell I was on the down-hill side and recovering. I still have almost a week before my 14-day self-quarantine commitment is complete.

First, I want to say that my heart hurts for so many families that have lost loved ones to the COVID19 pandemic, others who’ve contracted it and are fighting for their lives with the help of the courageous and dedicated medical staff who although never dreamed their professional lives would experience this are stepping up and risking all to save as many lives possible. Then there are others, which I may be among (“may” not having been tested), that are COVID19 positive and although not fighting for their lives nevertheless have experienced something that really kicked my butt and doesn’t just go ahead in a few days. My heart and prayers go out for all of these.

Many other families are seriously being affected financially by this pandemic which as of this writing hasn’t shown a pattern of slowing down so how affected is still yet to be known. My family and I are with you to some degree but know how blessed we are compared to so many others affected much more. Please know we are lifting you all in prayer to the best of our ability!

With that preface being said, I want to speak to this time when so many of us are experiencing time with social and shopping restrictions as we commit to the shelter-in-place declarations issued by governors having to make those hard calls for our safety and the best effort of slowing the spread.

So, what are your thoughts about all this downtime being confined to your home with your family for periods well beyond normal for you? What’s it like being with your wife, and children (if any still at home) 24×7 day after day well beyond anything you’ve ever experienced before?

For many of us, legitimate issues are overwhelming our hearts and minds as we care for our loved ones, some knowing this very dangerous virus firsthand, and the remainder doing all they can to protect their family from while providing for as best possible. No one has been spared serious soul searching during this time, have they!

Even given the legitimate stress we’re all feeling to varying degrees daily right now, isn’t it amazing how God is using this “downtime” and “restricted life” to work His wonders in our lives in ways we’d most likely never be in such a setting of receptiveness otherwise!

Husbands and wives are talking and spending more time together than ever before. This forced togetherness has exposed where we’re all truly at in our marriages. For those that haven’t been investing in their marriage the deductions are far outweighing the deposits, aren’t they! This is a very challenging time for these couples bringing a level of marital stress that will inevitably leave its permanent mark at best and will cost the marriages of others.

On the other hand, this has been a time like no other offering the opportunity to strengthen our marriages. This is a window of opportunity God has presented us to spend more quality time together than is normal. Couples are being given much needed time together to talk about so many things relating to many areas of their lives together. We’re all recognizing the normal routine of our relationships we’ve taken for granted has been altered greatly and our relationships are definitely not routine during this “shelter-in-place” time together. I hope you’re allowing the Holy Spirit of God to work the wonders He is so wanting to maximize in this very temporary but important time right now in your marriage. My wife Stephanie and I have enjoyed each other’s company and have used this window of opportunity to maximize on the marital growth we’ve been working consistently on with everything in us for a little over a year now since a very special day, February 18, 2019. We’ve had a wonderful 24 years together with too many beautiful memories to recall but experienced a disruption that ended with us recommitting our marriage to God with a renewed vigor and literal miracles have blossomed from since. Just the other night we sat on the couch watching an online 2-hour marital conference we signed up for. This time together soaking in all the great advice we can like a sponge continues to add so much excitement to the love and commitment God is continuing to grow in us for each other and our sincere desire, passion, and hope to use our stories to one day help others through ministry opportunities helping other couples realize the best in their marriages.

There’s no way to express here the quantity and quality of time God and I have spent together, just the two of us, as well in this opportunity COVID19 has granted us. I’ve spent more time in prayer than probably ever before. I’ve had so much quiet time to reflect internally on where I’m at in our relationship and how much of my mind, heart, everything I’m honestly willing to surrender to Him and act as faithfully and consistently possible in every moment to grow. I want to everyday increase my faith and commitment to being the absolute best man of God I can be, the best husband, father, friend, worker, disciple, and warrior where there’s a battle to be fought against an enemy that is increasing his commitment to destroy what God is doing in this wondrous time.

Steph and I are using all the time we can right now to think, talk together, plan, and act on matters of importance to our future with a lot of incentive being brought to the forefront of our priorities. We have sincere goals that we’re excited to materialize. We’ve made commitments to each other to mutually work on living together with a more frugal lifestyle, being happier with less, more appreciative of everything we have, better organized and responsible with our money and time. We’re currently working to downsize everywhere possible until we reach the point we’re maintaining what we need to live comfortably and release the energy of holding on to a lot of “stuff” we have stored but haven’t used in so long. We have SO much really good “stuff” we’ve held onto that we can convert some to money to put toward our semi off-grid smaller, simpler, home we’re designing even now and our desire to learn and implement a more frugal sustainable homestead lifestyle. We have a lot of things we hope we may help others that may need and we’d be blessed to help.

A burden God has placed heavily on my heart… Brothers, we have a real mess to clean up in most church environments among men! Years and years of apathy among Christian men has taken its toll on God’s need for masculine men who will step in the gap, shields locked, properly trained and ever ready to get together when called on and go on rescue missions the average Christian man today wouldn’t stand a chance of achieving for the Kingdom of God. Every lamb, every hurting man, woman, a child in the grip of the enemy, God SO wants to be freed and returned! The general church as we know it, for the most part, today is doing their best and succeeding obviously to some degree to which I thank them and honor them. They have their mission and we support them. There are others they just can’t reach that will take a different approach that I believe men, like I’ve found recently, is being set apart and specially trained for. I want to be among them with all I have and am.

This shelter in place time COVID19 has forced us into a temporary window of time that can be wasted with mindless movie binging, drinking to the point of dulling the senses to the reality of their current state, sitting around sulking and whining where that energy could much better be used catching up on honey-dos and projects at home requiring little money, mostly labor. OR… we can maximize every moment of this window of opportunity to work on ourselves, our marriages, our families, our homes, our priorities and goals and many other things bettering our lives in a time the enemy intends to use to his advantage as best possible to tear down and destroy.

I honestly believe with all my heart this is the greatest window of time in my life thus far and most likely will remember as such for the remainder of my years. Let the stories be told to our children, passed on to theirs as far as the stories can be told of the awesome work Christ did with our lives and how the world changed as certain men grew with their band of brothers to a force felt across the globe growing the Church, the Body of Christ into a much better aligned body of believers living God’s greatest desire for them thus reaping His love, grace, mercy, and blessings like we thought to date was mostly legendary stories of old.

I want to close with a special thanks to many men who’ve inspired me but want to highlight one who is SO Intune with the Spirit of the Lord he began a sermon series called “Outside these Walls” BEFORE COVID19 separated us and made what my pastor had no other way of knowing would become a real-world reality way beyond what he surely thought he was preparing encouragement and direction for those within his circle of influence. This pastor has held so solid and true and has given honest, no-frills, real-world direction to the flock God has placed under his responsibility as Shepard. As Aaron held up the arms of Moses holding his staff high to keep the waters separated long enough for the Israelites to escape the charging army seeking their destruction, brothers, let’s lift and hold our pastor’s arms high as he is equally doing the same for us right now!

Advance brothers, grow, and in unison… “FREEDOM!”

Love ya!

Blane Sheffield

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