Sunday, November 29, 2015

Beating the Sunday Evening Melancholy

Since I had no classes last week for Thanksgiving, I spent the first half of the week working on a multitude of small projects around the house: hanging a shelf, organizing cabinets, purging unworn clothes from our closets, and upgrading a set of old kitchen canisters -- the perfect assortment of odd jobs to scratch my organizational and DIY itches.

Give me a spare hour and a cabinet or closet to organize, and I enter this remarkably happy place.  When your pantry is lined up just so, like a little spice rack miracle, you can't help but smile (and periodically open your cabinets, even when you don't need anything, to bask at the efficiency and order.)

The latter half of the week, understandably, was devoted to family and feasting, which was lovely and warm and welcome.

And now it's Sunday evening.  I've pulled out my work bag from underneath the corner chair in my dining room where I had been hiding it from my sight.  My alarm is set.  Later tonight I'll even consider tomorrow's outfit so I don't stand in my closet paralyzed in a Monday morning stupor, unable to decide what to wear.

The typical routine will start once again.

Over the years I've noticed that when this realization settles on a Sunday evening after a break, a twinge of melancholy settles, too.  The melancholy doesn't last long; quite frankly, there's just no time to nurse such a sentiment.  You simply pick up the mantle of routine yet again and move along.

But what's helped me the most is to remember that God walks every step with me, whether Sunday evening or Monday morning.  Sometimes I still fall into the trap of believing that if my life were perfectly organized and pleasant and controlled (much like my newly-arranged cabinets), then I'd have peace.  Then all would be well with my soul.

But this thinking isn't realistic; life rarely is perfectly organized and predictable.  Nor is this thinking healthy.  It puts me at the emotional mercy of my circumstances, leaving me happy when all is well, but frustrated or frazzled or depressed when it isn't.  What good is it to be at ease only when the situation around you is easy?

It's freeing to remember that regardless of my situation -- whether calmness reigns, chaos breaks out, or Sunday evening melancholy creeps in -- I can draw on Jesus' peace and presence. 

Circumstances don't need to dictate my feelings.  God's able to keep me in his perfect peace. 

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Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Why, I'd Never Have Stickers... (#TransparentTuesday)

A few months ago I noticed a car in a parking lot.  One of its back windows was covered with stickers, an inside job perpetrated by some child who clearly never wanted to have a direct view of any scenery.

In that moment, I silently congratulated myself on the status of my minivan.  I really did.  Our van certainly wasn't clean, but come on, it wasn't wallpapered from the inside with stickers.  Have some pride, people.  Stickers just don't go on car windows.  Not on my watch, at least.

I entirely forgot about that car in the parking lot until yesterday when I searched the back of my own van for a missing shoe and noticed something.  Ahem.

I was right.  Stickers don't go on van windows.  They're meant for the back of the passenger's seat.

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Thursday, November 19, 2015

These Young Ones Can't Say the Same Thing

In the midst of my daily routine as I'm caring for my children, going to work, folding laundry, preparing meals, sweeping the kitchen floor, and planning for the upcoming holidays, I can't help but think about those who don't have any of this -- no knowledge of where their next meal will come from, no security, no small comforts, no semblance of a normal life.

We think of our precious and silly children, tucked in their beds, and we can't imagine them living a nightmare of terror and poverty, but we know that there are mothers and fathers and children who live that reality day in, day out.

With this bitter knowledge, we might admit that any contributions we could make, whether donations or prayers, feel empty and small and impotent.

But still, we pray.  They're not eloquent prayers, maybe not even specific.  Just, Lord, help and comfort and defend.  And we might donate blankets or clothes, hoping that in some small way, the fabric will warm a heart, not just a body.

I'm grateful -- so grateful -- for the safety, comfort, and provision that my family and community experience.  My heart is just heavy because I know that these young ones can't say the same thing.

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Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Meal Planning (#TransparentTuesdsay)

Did I ever tell you about the time when my freezer door accidentally was left open?  It was a sad day, not only because my once frozen food had thawed and liquified into a putrid, vomitous puddle, but also because some of that food was in the form of actual meals that I had prepared in advance for days when my schedule would be too hectic to prepare a decent dinner.

In advance!  Advanced planning!  Ruined!

It was a painful loss.

You see, I'm not always the best meal planner.  There are days when 5:00 arrives and I'm surprised, yet again, that it's nearly dinner, that I have children, and that I'm somehow responsible for feeding dinner to those children.  WHY must this cycle keep happening?  Can't a meal just appear?

Well, quite fortunately, it can.

Thank you, Chinese take out.  Seriously, you saved me last week on a day when advanced meal planning -- or any cooking for that matter -- was simply not happening.

#TransparentTuesday.  Life is real, my dear friends.  Let's not believe otherwise.

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Monday, November 16, 2015

Never Underestimate the Power of an Encouraging Word

I recently received an unexpected card in the mail from a friend with whom I had been talking the week before in our church lobby.  Instead of one of those rushed, "How-are-you?"-"I'm-fine-thanks" exchanges as we're swept in opposite directions, we had an actual minute to connect.

In a moment of real candor, I had wondered aloud if I'm too busy working to achieve my actual life purpose (which is a wallop of a statement, understandably), and she had nodded and listened.  Fast forward one week and picture me at my mailbox, pulling out an envelope addressed to me in her penmanship.

I opened the card in my kitchen, watching as two pictures that she had printed fell onto the counter.  In her message she reminded me how I support my husband, love my children, and reach out to my students.  She shared how my words have helped friends, neighbors, and strangers.  She reminded me of God's good plans and purposes for my life, right in this season, right where I am.

I'll always keep this card.

I think of key moments in my life when someone has encouraged me -- pouring courage back into my heart that, for whatever reason, had evaporated.  When I've left those moments, the situation hadn't changed, but my perspective had.  That's an immensely valuable shift.

Let's never understimate the power of an encouraging word.  It's no small thing.

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