Hello from the other side! Our family's in iso – part 1

Meet the Diener family: Lissa and Daryl (Dazz), and their kids Isaac (eight) and Evelyn (five). The Dieners have been living in isolation for over a week in their northern Sydney home, since becoming COVID close contacts on New Year’s Eve. Lissa shares about their experience of being holed up with two young kids and how God has sustained them.

We got a call from friends on January 2 to say they had come down with symptoms the night before and had tested positive to COVID. We had spent New Year’s Eve with them, so were considered close contacts. We went into isolation. The following day, my daughter presented with symptoms and tested positive, while the rest of the family initially tested negative. But three days later, my husband and son then developed symptoms and also tested positive. It’s strange that I am still negative!

How have you spent the last week in isolation?

We have been watching a lot of test cricket during the day, much to my son’s delight! We’ve also been loving playing my husband’s retro Nintendo 64. So Mario Kart and Mario Tennis have been in high rotation – pixilated graphics and all. We love games too, so there have been many rounds of Snap, Memory, Snakes and Ladders and a new game we got at Christmas time called Sleeping Queens. I have also managed to paint my daughter’s bedroom, my husband has started building a brick wall, and he and the kids are often in the garden working on our veggie and herb patch. We have also been kept busy with our new Christmas puppy named Honey.

How are the kids coping with being cooped up?

The kids are coping well. There have been a few tears along the way and natural frustrations that arise from being stuck in your home with the same people day in and day out. But overall, they are in a pretty good mindset. I think it has encouraged them to be creative (yesterday, my son got a bee in his bonnet about creating a city out of all our recycling and spent a couple of hours on that) and to also work hard at getting along and being kind to each other.

Fuel your faith every Friday with our weekly newsletter

“… the Spirit is gently prompting me to remember once again that my contentment is to be found in my relationship with him.” – Lissa Diener

What have been the greatest challenges so far for you and your husband?

I think the biggest challenge for me has been feeling like we are missing out on all our holidays and trying to find contentment regardless of our situation. It’s prompted me to perhaps consider that I may have idolised my holidays; desperately waiting for them to come at the end of last year and holding images in my mind of frequenting the beach during endless summer days. However, the reality has been far from that, and I think the Spirit is gently prompting me to remember once again that my contentment is to be found in my relationship with him and in all the blessings that are flowing daily from being one of his children.

My husband says that as parents of younger children, it has felt challenging as we have sought to help our kids not depend on us for their entertainment all the time! It’s been mentally exhausting and a constant challenge to be godly parents.

As you face several more days in isolation, how are you feeling?

Yesterday it hit me that we were now going to have to see out almost another week of isolation, as my husband and son who initially tested negative, then tested positive towards the end of the first week. I woke up yesterday and felt really down as I looked at my calendar and all the days that have just been spent at home. I felt bad for my kids in particular, as they’ve missed out on play dates and beach trips and just the socialising that we enjoy as a family with others. However, upon acknowledging and giving space to these feelings, I’ve been able to wake up this morning knowing God’s mercies are new and that I can try to live another day for him, even at home.

Have there been any unexpected blessings during this time of isolation?

Yes! I think we’ve been so blessed by the many acts of kindness from friends and family. When you’re in isolation, you’re really forced to accept help from people. This sort of vulnerability enables others to bless you and strengthens these relationships. We’ve had meals and treats delivered to us, as well as care packages filled with games and books and activities for the kids to do. Some of the kids’ friends have happily FaceTimed them, which has brought a smile to their faces. And, of course, people’s prayers for you are invaluable and we feel them. We are so grateful for all the love and care we have experienced. Despite being isolated, we have not felt alone or isolated from the people we know and love.

“I’m learning more and more deeply that [God] really is the only constant in my life.” – Lissa Diener

In what ways other ways have you experienced God’s love and care during this time?

God has also kindly answered prayers for our children, who despite being unvaccinated at the time of getting COVID, have experienced only mild symptoms. This has been a particular praise point for our family because my son has chronic health conditions and I’ve always been nervous about how his body would cope if he caught COVID. We are grateful to God.

And once again, I’ve also experienced the voice of God speaking to me. No matter where we are or what we’re going through, when I open the Bible, God is speaking to me and I know his Spirit is ministering to mine. He is constantly softening my heart as the things I had hoped for haven’t come to fruition, and I’m learning more and more deeply that he really is the only constant in my life. The hope of heaven is the one, unchanging event I can look to with all confidence and this helps me to hold more loosely to what I have and what I am walking through now.

What would you say to other parents with young kids who are fearful about the possibility of catching COVID and having to isolate?

I would say firstly, that you are not alone in having those fears. We are all walking together in this as parents and I have found comfort in that thought. We are not alone!

We really are in a time where, once again, we are being reminded that we cannot control the situation. This feeling of being out of control can feel so uncomfortable. But we have a Heavenly Father who is in control and I pray that would bring us parents peace. That being said, of course, as we hand over the things we can’t control to God, we can also be making some good decisions too. Perhaps it’s wise to have a few things prepared in the event that you do have to go into isolation – who will you call for help? What expectations and mindset will you have during isolation? Will you have an open heart that is ready to still hear and learn from God? How can you help your children best process this experience and grow in their faith? I think a week or more of isolation can actually be incredibly fruitful when we intentionally walk it with God.