Are you familiar with the phrase, the liturgy of the ordinary?
How much do we pay attention to the daily practices that absorb our time and skew our perspective simply through their mundane repetition?
As I picked up my groceries the other day, I had a startling reminder that we can experience more joy and connectedness in our daily hustle, sowing seeds a little along the way, rather than resigning ourselves to the drudgery of repetitive chores or errands.
I pulled up into slot #7 & called the pick-up number to notify them of my arrival. Someone answered and yelled into the phone, “WALMART GROCERY PICKUP!” I was so startled I almost dropped the phone, noticing that I already had ringing in my ear from the loud screech.
Almost immediately, the voice on the other end of the line began to apologize, laughing nervously. I asked, “Is this Tanya?“ It was my turn to surprise her because I recognized her voice. “Uh, yeah” she replied somewhat sheepishly. I told her my name and she began laughing, saying “Oh, it’s you! I’m SO sorry! I’ll be right out!”
Typically I don’t call the number. I usually activate the app as I’m leaving my house to warn them of my impending arrival. In fact, I had never talked to Tanya on the phone before.
How did I know it was her?
Instinctively, I knew it was herbecause the two of us have been part of each other’s Liturgy of the Ordinary.
As part of her job, she rolls out my grocery order, informs me of substitutions, and cheerfully loads my groceries in the back of my well-lived-in cargo area. As part of my Momjob, I’m frequently in the waiting zone, rolling down my window and squiggling my autograph on her order phone.
Tanya and I have chatted over the course of the last few months as our mundane duties have bumped us together more often than I’d like to admit. (A household of teenaged appetites is my excuse for such frequent visits, not poor menu planning…surely not!)
We have become familiar with one another, often sharing a knowing smile of “here we go again!” as we move through our well-choreographed grocery dance.
What began as an ordinary Monday grocery pick-up this week turned into laughter and connection, giving us both a boost of positive energy to resume our rote routines. She hugged me spontaneously and said something along the lines of “Thanks for always being so great! You’re awesome!”
As I drove home with my grocery bags jostling each other, I was lighter in spirit and grateful for a little unexpected sparkle in my day.
The mundane task of putting all the food away and preparing the next meal still loomed, but my perspective shift was noticeably clearer.
“May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us; establish the work of our hands for us.” Psalms 90:17
By the way, if you don’t know about grocery store pick-ups, do it! I wish it had been available when my kiddos were younger and in carseats… a game-changer, for sure!
Now, go discover the Sparkle in your Ordinary day, my friend!
Hermit Crabs, Lego’s, Stuffed Animals and Forts...(just in case you need the recipe)
With my two older sons away at Scout Camp, I found a sacred little niche of time with my two younger sons. It has been unstructured and simple, just the way we all like it. We’ve had breakfast for dinner and snacks in-between. We’ve read books, watched videos, played in the garden and even busted out the puzzles and board games.
After a couple of days of complete chill, we rallied to tackle a monumental task…their closet! It took most of a day and into the night, but they were champs at sorting, cleaning and releasing things to the recycle pile. Then they relished in how nice their room felt with its new, clean edge to it. (And so did I! Purging kiddie litter always makes me feel great!!)
During this process we stumbled onto a perfect blend that creates much joy in a young boys heart. The stuffed animals had been overwhelming us all winter, and no amount of structure seemed to contain them. We finally have found a fun summertime approach to taming our zoo!
By claiming a nook in their room, we piled it high with penguins, bears, giraffes and puppy dogs. We then grabbed some large legos, (but any building structure would work; even baby gates), and built a wall around them. It was just high enough to keep our live dogs out, but short enough that boys can step over to get in. And then it’s kind like a garden, but instead of water and sunlight, just add books, blankets and a sheet to transform or upgrade to fort status when needed. (I actually haven’t seen the boys since!!) This also keeps your couch pillows from being kidnapped for fort use because all those soft stuffed animals fit the bill perfectly.
We added to our joyful blend by taking a trip to the pet store for much-anticipated hermit crabs. The boys have been waiting patiently since March when we first started talking about them. It was a sweet surprise reward for their hard work cleaning the day before. It seems like a rite of passage to give children the chance to care and nurture a pet and keep it in their room; they return often and linger longer because of it.
Relaxing and then cleaning out closets has all turned out to have been quite exciting and the boys have proclaimed they have the “best room ever!” I whole-heartedly agree! When the right combination reaches this simple level of joy, it makes you want to linger as long as you can. One day when these two are grown up, I will smile on this week and cherish every piece of it.
Our family almost always has a project going on. Please tell me we’re not the only ones?
Currently, we’re in the midst of a storage room expansion. We’ve all adjusted to the perpetual whining of saws, staccato of hammering, and swooshing of sanders. Even our dog has adapted to the workers and extra activity, preferring to hide out in their space filled with the familiar drone of power tools rather than the unpredictable rumble of thunder last week.
Starting a construction project is exciting. Expectations and hopes are high.
Finishing a project is thrilling. Moving into a new space is fun!
Let’s be real, though. The bulk of any project is the Middle.
It’s where all the gritty work and dedication to the task happen. It’s the messiest part and often goes on longer than planned. Sometimes we face challenges in the Middle that we weren’t expecting. Footprints suddenly appear on countertops and construction nails are discovered in a car tire …or two!
For any construction project, we prepare for the noise and surge of activity. Big movements mean change is coming. We brace ourselves and dive in to the adventure.
Somehow we forget about the quieter aspects of construction upheaval. (Is there such a thing as Home Improvement Amnesia??) We forget about that sneaky sheetrock dust and its magical pervasiveness — even if doors have been closed and precautions have been taken. It seeps in EVERYWHERE, mysteriously settling in place overnight, greeting us each morning like a dusting of frost.
I keep reminding myself that we’re almost there. Sanding signifies the painting phase is coming soon, which means the final stages are around the corner. We just need to persevere a little longer.
When we’re at the starting line of a race or a project, we’re hyped up with anticipation and energy to begin. It’s a very tangible place. Our senses are all perked up in awareness of the task ahead.
Somewhere in the middle, though, things tend to get a little blurry and uncertain. We don’t have the finish line in sight yet, and we have to face the realities of this murky Middle part.
Our initial energy has waned yet we have to persevere through the barriers of change.
Perseveranceis an important life skill often learned through struggle and the shedding of a few tears.
Ironically, my Community Bible Study group is reading through the book of Acts and we’ve just gotten to the passage about Paul striving to finish his Course well.
“If only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me…” Acts 20:24
Paul’s story is filled with tenacious boldness despite all the opposition he faces, yet also demonstrates his gifts of encouragement and gracethroughout his trials.
These are all wonderful attributes to adopt in the Middle of a long-term project or a particular life struggle. We are all under construction in some way or another, muddling through the messy Middle.
Some of our struggles might be obvious and expected, but others will be quietly devastating in their unexpected ripple effects.
May we each be able to lean on one another with grace and encouragement during our earnest efforts to maintain our course. Much growth can occur in that Messy Middle, depending on how we adapt and respond.
Whatever rebuilding process you may be in, here’s to finishing well, friends!
Sometimes our days unfold in unexpected ways and we wander aimlessly around, trying to get our bearings.
Today my youngest stayed home with the crud. Again. Those pesky symptoms have lingered long and we’re both tired of this nagging crud that we’re both battling. We’re both off-kilter and perhaps a little cranky.
Like a determined cold front moving in, this ominous cloud of sickness hovered over us and threatened to dampen our spirits. When my “mommy mind” finally acquiesed to the imposing reality, we succumbed to a slower pace for the day.
The grocery list sat on the counter.
Emails built up on my laptop.
Texts chimed on my phone.
We tuned out and continued with our mindless meanderings. One of us embraced the day with his robe gallantly flowing behind him and sporting his bedhead with pride. One of us got restless, seeking to uncover a little productivity amidst all the nurturing efforts. It was so hard to surrender to the imposed slowdown.
My son won the “Lounging Around” award with ease. He did it with gusto (well, after the meds kicked in) and fully hunkered down into a day of recovery rest. It was a reprieve from his usual expectations. He seemed to enjoy plopping down on the couch with minimal purpose, absorbing some quiet activities despite the constant companion of a kleenex box.
By the end of the afternoon, his eyes showed more sparkle and his body posture transformed gradually from a drowsy sloth to a muted version of his typical spunky self. He was steadily regaining his energy level.
As he rebooted, I cratered. The lack of sleep from the night before (peppered by his coughs, snorts and some unmentionable things) finally downshifted me into neutral. Since he had improved, I was able to give myself permission to go offline. (This built-in Mom radar is a tricky one to power down.)
Taking notes from my son’s approach, I gave in to reading a novel I received at Christmas. Somewhere along the way I dozed off and later was awakened by my other boys returning home from school. Since I’m not a natural nap-taker, this caught them both by surprise…and was an acute reminder that they often don’t see me actually Rest.
We rallied through a simple dinner and I pushed through the evening’s activities – – which also unfolded in unexpected ways. (Adulting is hard and apparently nonstop…especially if your husband is away doing army work and you can’t tag team out.)
Therein lies the crux of parenting. We ebb and flow with our kids’ needs, sometimes with cheerful encouragement and other times with begrudging grunts as we’re pulled away from our own agendas.
These overcast days that are mired with grumpy challenges can provide grist for the mill.
Getting nudged off of our usual path can help provide a broader perspective.
Sometimes it takes a “shutdown” of a typical day to remind us about all the ways that we can shine a little brighter the next time a front of disappointment or illness rolls in.
It’s okay to give in to the perks of a sick day — to take a respite from daily chores, to allow some nonessential responsibilities to slide, to nestle in beside your tousled child and indulge in some personal reading.
Wallow a bit together.
Take a nap.
Savor the restorative power of grilled cheese …
When the clouds break and the sickness fades away, that sunshine will seem all the brighter and your own light will shine a little stronger because you’ve weathered the darkness together.