So, as you can tell by the picture, we've had a little something unexpected here on Saturday in Western Michigan. Snow! On April 2!!!
I've heard it can happen and always felt bad when it did because I was usually gone on spring break. Well, I do not have anyone left in high school and although we were home this first week of April last year, this did not happen then! So this year, I found myself looking out the window with my arms folded and thinking NOW WHAT!
You see the morning had been sunny albeit chilly, but I was thinking about cleaning my car interior (badly needed), sweeping out the garage, and of course, a possible bike ride. Well, the day turned around very quickly and by noon, I found myself doing a revision of my day. The snow, however unwelcome it might have been, was first of all, beautiful. It was the huge flakes that stick to the trees and quickly creates a beautiful winter scene. And even though it wasn't what I wanted to do, I was able to really accomplish some inside tasks I had been avoiding. When my grandson came over later, we snuggled under an afghan and took a cozy nap. That to me, is the best way to appreciate a winter day. Cozied up with that sweet boy in a chair instead of cleaning my car or going for a bike ride trumps it all. So, we adapt and make adjustments to the circumstances around us because things can change up so quickly.
Isn't that the way life goes sometimes in our personal lives? We can have a plan for the day, a great plan, and at the end of the day we might ask ourselves, “What happened to that plan I made this morning???” I find that happens more often than not. There is a popular saying “If I cannot change the wind, I can change my sail.” I think that's what we have to do almost every day when the unexpected drops in our laps. Our plans are not our own.
Proverbs 19:21 says this “Many are the plans in a person's heart but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails.” BAM! Oh yes, the Lord's purpose not mine. How could I have forgotten again?!
I think of how often I would have the best of intentions to not drink that day. I would start my morning with God and pray for His help that day. Pray that I would stick to the plan of not drinking and accomplishing what I needed to, and that's about where it ended. I would get up from the table and put away my journal and Bible and go on with MY agenda. Do you see what was happening here?
I put God away and didn't call on Him again that day for help. When I got weak and tired, I didn't stop what I was doing to reflect on what I had read and written that morning. I went on in my own will and when it got too hard, I drank. I drank in weakness. When we are beaten down, it's hard to fight back. Instead we say, “Forget it. I can't do this today." Then, we give in to whatever we think will make us feel better in the moment and that can look like so many things.
For me, it was alcohol. If something interrupted my perfect plan that day, I was so quick to use alcohol to cope. From something so simple as finding one mess on my way to clean up another (have you ever had that happen?) to an unexpected argument with someone that I did not see coming. Looking back, I am pretty sure I sometimes looked for those moments as an excuse to drink and just give up on doing that day sober.
For some of you, it’s food. One break in your perfect food plan for the day and you've totally wrecked it! “Great I had a cookie, Loser! Now I might as well eat the whole box. Oh, and let's order Stromboli tonight as there is no use making that healthy dinner I was planning on. Also, now I’m not going to exercise today. What’s the use?!" I’m very familiar with this conversation. I have a super addictive personality, which tends to lead me into some pretty rigid all-or-nothing way of thinking.
The other trap we fall into is, distraction. I might sit down at my computer to pay some bills, get some writing done, or return some necessary emails, and two hours later I’ve done none of that! I find myself totally distracted by Facebook, Pinterest, or some other social media. I’ve printed off 20 recipes I will probably never make. Appropriately commented on whatever my friends have posted that day and watched a video of a kid somewhere in China that is a singing sensation. REALLY! I am so mad at myself when I realize my time that I planned to do the tasks at hand are gone. Then I have to do it later at night, which never works! I am so unproductive at night. I love to read and nighttime is usually when I get to do that. So, things that really needed to be done get pushed to the next day, I find myself behind on MY schedule and I am so mad at myself. Once again, I was giving into the lure of all things interesting on my computer that had nothing to do with what I was supposed to be doing.
So what do you do to avoid these traps? Here are some tips I have found really useful:
Stay with God all day not just when you start it. I send up one-liners to God all day long asking for help in attitude, weakness, and distraction.
If I read or hear something in my morning quiet time that really speaks to me (happens every day,) I write it down on an index card. Then I place it where I will see it a lot that day in whatever I am doing. I speak it out loud when I see it and it helps; it really does.
Music! I play music all day whether I am at home or in the car. I love to put a favorite artist on Pandora instead of the chatter of TV in the background. I used to have the tv on all day long not realizing what a huge distraction it really was. Chip and Joanna were taking up a lot of my day even though I wasn't meaning for them to! You will be amazed at the words that you hear throughout the day in way of song. Most of the time I put on Need to Breathe or Rend Collective, but every once and awhile I put some on some 80’s when I really need to kick it in gear and get a job done.
I ask myself this question when my hand is hovering above the cookie jar or I am ready to click on Facebook instead of my email. “How will you feel about this decision an hour from now?” That usually works for me quickly. I know that there will be some satisfaction in the moment, but it brings me to some not-so-good thinking later as a result. I ask myself what I want the rest of day to look like after the next 10 minutes. Sometime it's just what I need to get past the moment and move on.
Take a break. When you find yourself wandering in the direction of the things you have a weakness for, take a few minutes to sit in the sun a moment, text one of your kids or a friend just to say hi, just do something you enjoy and do it briefly (key word briefly) before you move on to the task at hand.
Those are just a few suggestions. What works for you? I would love to hear from you and add a few ideas to the list!
This verse is on an index card all the time as it holds a lot of meaning to me. I hope it does for you as well!
Proverbs 16:3 “Commit to the Lord whatever you do and he will establish your plans.”
Join me Friday at 6 PM on PNN. We will continue the conversation about “Expecting the Unexpected.”