Tuesday, March 8, 2022

In Which God Has Other Plans For My Lent

 If I had to put a label on this week (and I realize it's only Tuesday!), it would be the week that has not gone according to plan.  It also isn't lost on me that I posted this on my page on Facebook on Sunday.

"We want things to go the way we choose, and God wants us to choose to trust His ways." 


I think God was preparing me.

Things not going "according to plan" is a struggle for me, and always has been. I remember when we were homeschooling, I would spend all summer choosing books, writing out lesson plans, and it all looked and sounded so gloriously wonderful on paper. But the minute those tiny humans entered the picture, with their personal tastes and preferences, their grumpy days and tired days, one with a detest for poetry, the other for history and usually within the first week my carefully curated plans and ideas about dreamy days of learning crumbled. Looking back I realize that though we did somehow manage to get it all done, it never went according to plan. 

These days my girls are grown, and our homeschool days are behind us (which actually were pretty dreamy in hindsight), but I still live by a "preferred" rhythm, and when it gets interrupted I have a hard time re-centering myself. Recently I was listening to my friend, Heather's podcast, where she was speaking of her homekeeping routine and at one point she said something like, "If you miss a day, don't sweat it, just pick back up the next day and move on". The very idea floored me, my mind frantically racing to all the things that didnt' get done on Monday, and how could I possibly just not sweat it and pick back up with Tuesday? I don't deal well with unchecked boxes.

As I began my lenten journey this year I was decided on what I would give up, specific things I wanted to  dedicate to focused prayer, ways that I could serve others. Letting go of things in this season has never been a problem for me, I've always been willing. But within the first week other things have come forefront in my mind, and weighed heavier on my heart that my original focus, and among those is "my plans". This perplexed me at first, in light of the fact that with a rule of life, my plan was to more attentively focus my life upon Him. I think I may have audibly gasped, "How could there possibly be anything wrong with my plans?" Cheeky, I know! Later that night I read that quote by Ann Voskamp and as I said, posted it on FB. I could almost hear the Holy Spirit quietly laughing, "We'll see." :)

I purchased an Apple Watch over the weekend. I've wanted one for awhile, for a number of reasons, but among other things is the ability to go for a walk and not have to carry my phone (I've dropped it and cracked the screen, twice!), and a few other neat features like tracking my miles, my heart rate, sending me friendly reminders throughout the day, etc. Anyway, all that being said, our phone carrier had a really good deal on them and after talking it over with my husband, I decided to buy one. All of that was good and fine, until Monday morning when I signed into our account to find that the price I had been quoted (thankfully in writing), and what was being reflected on our account was signficantly different. Also, somehow in the process of activating it, it had added not one line but two lines to our service, both of which were somehow associated with my watch. As a result, this ended up being my Monday, and I wish I was exaggerating. The number of conversations I had to have with the number of people, and the number of times I was switched to a different department and had to start over from scratch, it was exassperating. In the end we arrived back at the price I had originally been quoted (Always keep copies of online customer service chats and the name of the person you are speaking with!), and managed to get rid of the extra line and the costs associated with it. But, all of that meant, of course, that my Monday rhythm did not flow as planned.  And in the midst of all of this chaos, my daughter came home early from work with five prescriptions and a nasty sinus and ear infection, which then became most of my night and into today. While the problems with my watch were aggravating, taking care of my daughter isn't something I mind, but I do have to admit that I quickly realized that not only did my Monday to-do's not get done, but Tuesday's rhythm would most likely be interrupted as well which might have been followed by a heavy sigh. :)

Last night as I was praying over and confessing my angst regarding my disdain for interruptions, I vividly recalled a time when I became frustrated with my daughter over a history lesson. I loved history, but my daughter decidely, both then and now, did not. My frustration had been building for weeks, both with her attitude and my seeming lack of ability to instill a love for the subject. But on this particular day everything came to a head and in the melt down I realized that I had overlooked the most important aspect of educating my child, relationship. It is true that in most cases (apple watches aside), the majority of the interruptions that occur in my life are related to relationship, caused by someone I love. In those moments I often become so attached to my schedules and rhythms that I become short, frustrated, impatient and even angry. Part of my frustratioin is related to what I believe is and undiagnosed life-long struggle with ADD. The truth is, if something gets interrupted there's a good chance I'm not going to remember it again for hours, maybe days, and its not going to get done. But when I think back even on those times, I don't think anything that was left "undone" was detrimental. I knew that beyond what I had chosen to focus on in this season of lent, the Lord was revealing something deeper. It is time to deal with my life long propensity for being more "taske focused" and not "people focused". Because in the end it doesn't really matter how "good" a plan is, if the exact execution of it trumps my relationship with my family and friends.

I recalled that back when history was the problem, I discovered that because I loved history, I had planned a lot of extra activities that I thought would make it more fun, when in reality they just made it take longer and caused my daughter to become frustrated. In the end we adopted the Charlotte Mason approach to history with her reading the text, giving me an oral narration, and keeping a timeline. And while I was sad to see the lapbook left unmade, it just wasn't something she was interested in doing. In fact, lapbooks just weren't her thing across the board! I think that was me projecting how I would have liked to have been educated on to her. Lapbooks weren't a think in public school in the 60's, I would have LOVED them! But once I eliminated all the extras, she was a much happier student and our relationship as child/teacher improved dramatically. So often in life things that are "good" are still not necessarily what is "best" for your child and family, but it takes trial and error to discover that.

So now I'm revisiting my friend's words, "Just pick up the next day and move on." Because if I'm being honest, there is really never a time that I would be embarrassed for someone to drop by. If the floor doesn't get swept in the family room on Monday, I doubt anyone but me would notice, and what's so hard really about sweeping it on Tuesday? The floor doesn't know what day it is? :) Once I began to embrace this way of thinking, I decided to re-do my homemaking binder.  The outlines for what I **hope** to accomplish each day are still there, but I did one tiny little thing that I think will make the difference, I removed the check boxes! Now rather than rules that dictate what in my mind "must" be done that day and leave me feeling behind, they serve as rather a guide for what "should" happen, and if it doesn't, we will indeed just "pick up where we left off" tomorrow. And isn't that so like the rule providing a scaffolding or trellis to support our spiritual life, and now with this one small change, my homekeeping binder can do the same? And most importantly if, when a loved one is ill, or just wants to spend the day together, and even if I end up all day on the phone with my service provider, it's all good! **Fingers crossed ** anyway, because right now its all just "in writing", now to the hard part of living it out!

Surprisingly enough, it would appear that what God wants me to give up in this season of lent, is my time. It honestly would have been  the last thing from my mind, left to myself.  But I think, no, I know, that managing my time gives me a sense of control, which is why when things get interrupted, I often respond the way I do because then I feel out of control. And of course, the facade is that I have control at all! And no sooner had I posted that charming little quote about my plans and God plans, that He decided to test it. 

Something lovely I discovered while on hold for the tenth time on Monday

- The internet archives has The Pioneer Woman Cookbooks, free for the browsing! 

- The Next Right Thing by Emily P. Freeman is available as part of Kindle Unlimited right now!

- I started a new scarf to go with my new absolutely beautiful coat I got on clearance at Target last week. My favorite shade of green and marked down to $13.50 and wouldn't you know I had yarn that matches it perfectly! I'll try to post a picture of it soon! 

So you might say it wasn't all a waste.

Also, the fiasco with my cell carrier also challenged me greatly in the whole "task" oriented / "relationship" oriented mindset. And while my "relationship" with them is not personal, I did have to curb my frustration repeatedly and challenge myself to speak calmly and kindly. I'm sure that most of those precious people on the other end of that line are men and women, mom's and dad's just trying to carve out a living for themselves and their families and home is where they would rather be instead of on the phone with me. My mother always had a saying, "Honey attracts bees better than vinegar", a phrase I recalled in a tense moment of negotiations, so thanks, mom! As I said, I was able to get my problems resolved, but I'm telling you people, take notes and name names! Kindly, but still . . . :)

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