In today's paper, you'll notice stories on the virus and how locals, city officials and others are responding to it.

However, the March 25 issue signifies something else: I'm officially 28 years old. I know that doesn't sound like big news, but in the midst of a pandemic,  I felt it's appropriate in context of the current situation. Every season of our lives comes with tribulation and I understand our country's facing that right now. I don't call a national emergency a great way to celebrate a milestone in my life, but it’s definitely shown me just how much I’ve grown over the last three years.

I've developed a deeper sense of appreciation and how to utilize my resources carefully. Even with my original birthday plans falling through, I’ve made the most of the time with loved ones — whether standing six feet away or through texts, phone calls and Facebook. Mom and I started a challenge of memorizing a verse at a time from Psalm 91, which describes God as our refuge and protection in every trap and deadly disease. On Sunday, my sister chatted with me via Facebook Video Messenger and updated me on her well being, along with her husband and two children. My best friend told me she was making the most of her time while under quarantine by going outside and horseback riding on her family's ranch. I also checked in with my college friends to send some encouragement their way and we laughed about the toilet paper hoarding.

In spite of all that’s happening, I've noticed growth and endurance of people both locally and nationally. On the national level, I've heard about different companies, like Apple, donating millions of masks for health professionals in the US and Europe to help combat the spread of the coronavirus. Last Thursday, President Trump spoke in a press conference about 10,000 scientists and doctors working together to make a vaccine for COVID-19. While I want to be realistic about time, financial resources and clinical testing, I believe God will provide the wisdom and guidance for them to develop a cure.

Locally, our communities are growing stronger from this pandemic. Marshfield R-I Schools, with the help of the Ministerial Alliance and other volunteers, has been giving out meals to ensure no student goes without food. Last Wednesday, I talked to one teacher, Tiffany Replogle, during a phone interview, regarding her award from the Missouri Educators of Family and Consumer Sciences and Human Services. Even though she wasn’t with her students and colleagues, she remained positive and shared about her love for the students and FACS program. Even my editor, Karen Craigo,  shared with me about positive measures being taken in her neighborhood, where some families are using sidewalk chalk to write encouraging messages.

In last week’s issue, our publisher, Jamey Honeycutt, mentioned in his column that we're all in this together. We definitely need to continue to support each other and as part of the local newspaper, my colleagues and I want to be that vital source for important news.

In times of uncertainty and businesses shutting down, I write this another year older, growing wiser and developing a fresh perspective on life.  It's crazy to think I'm now just two years away from 30 years old. Dad says age is only a number and to thank God for every chance to celebrate. I’m celebrating my growth, as well as the growth and responses of many people in my country, even in the face adversity.

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