I noticed this while driving down the street one day and I bet you can relate:
Gray Day, Gray Skies, Driving a Gray Car, the streets are Gray, Weariness even feels like the Color. I looked down and I am wearing all Gray!! Did I fall into this day?!
Gray does not have to be bad.
There will always be a scattering of gray days for all of us. Wouldn’t the enemy love to take those gray days and pin us down, entangle us, or spiral us deeper and deeper into lost hope and despair…forlorn when the sunshine seems no more. What if we look at those gray days not as a detriment to our living, but as an opportunity to get tighter to the Lord? To cling to Him on the gray, windy days, and then learn how to infuse color into them. What if we take those gray days and ask the Lord to bubble up Joy from within us, and show us others that are immersed too deep in the gray day…
Gray days can teach us many things.
So here I am, driving the boys to school on another random gray day, and my nine-year old makes a statement that I think is quite profound:
“No matter the weather, we get to choose the forecast of each day.”
I was speechless for a moment as I thought about those words. He threw them out so loosely, but I found myself grasping for them to digest further. How many gray days of my life have I tossed to the side of the road trying just to get them over with? My son’s statement snapped me back to a reality that each day is a precious gift; none are a waste. We might have to search a little more for the Joy in our gray days; but lessons taught to us like: perseverance, resilience, overcoming, speaking Life over a situation…all end up breaking through those gray days and eventually shine light onto them. We can take the darkest day, or the sunniest, and choose to fill it with the most potential possible for us and those around us. Attitude really is everything sometimes. Beautiful things can transpire out of the Gray.
Gray will never probably be one of my favorite colors, but I’m learning the use of it when it shows up in the weather forecast now…
“So we do not lose heart… our inner self is being renewed day by day. For the light momentary affliction is preparing for us eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison , as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4: 16-18
The other day in the midst of running typical errands, I was nearly in a head-on collision. A woman careened through the intersection making a left turn and almost hit me as I was going straight on a green light. We both slammed on our brakes and came to a screeching halt. Before I could catch my breath, she backed up and I could see the crumpled front-end of her car. Oh no!
She waved dramatically at me then pulled on around and out of the intersection, leaving me stunned in the middle of a busy intersection.
I pulled out of the way and into a parking lot to assess the damage. There was none. I was both relieved and shocked. It was such a close call, maybe an inch or two… “Did that really just happen?”
As my heartbeat thudded in my ears and I looked about for the other woman, I stood in disbelief as I realized she was long gone. Hadn’t she seen me?Shouldn’t we check on each other? Nobody else had stopped either. I didn’t have anyone to corroborate what had just happened, to validate what I had seen and heard.
– – – To be seen and heard – – –
We navigate our lives in and around people all day long, often on autopilot. How much do we REALLY see and hear about those around us?
How much are WE seen and heard?
Sometimes we have to be still ourselves to be able to tune in to others more fully. We think we’re paying attention, but we’re really not.
As I’ve tried attending a yoga class more regularly, I’m realizing how busy my brain is despite my body being in a relaxed posture. I’m learning to redirect my attention through the simple act of counting my breaths, in and out…in and out. (and starting over when I notice I’m adding something else to my grocery list!)
Slowing down allows us to take in what’s going on around us in this busy daily life of ours.
Noticing details is a way to show others we care, that we acknowledge them for what is unique about them. To act on one of these observed details takes it a step further.
It can be the little things on an ordinary day that make a big difference.
a word of encouragement
a smile from a stranger as you pass by on a brisk winter day
providing an unexpected snack for your kids
picking up your husband’s dry-cleaning to remove it from his to-do list and ease his transition home a little sooner
sending a card to a grandma far away to remind her that she’s always being held close to her family’s heart
flowers celebrating a special occasion – or just because
When someone does something out of their “ordinary” for us, we feel noticed. We feel loved.
I smiled the other night as I prepared a bubble bath, playfully tossing in the rubber duckies my son gave me at Christmas and unwrapping a bath bomb labeled “monkey farts” = gifts of love with a boy twist!
Some of my most treasured gifts have an underlying message of “I see you…I hear you.”
All of my guys have witnessed my journey with the Bible Quilt®️ journal, supporting me in various ways as they see the ebb and flow of a fledgling business. They pitch in to do a quick pick-up before a home session then swiftly disappear when they sense an incoming flux of women and girls.
My youngest surprised me at Christmas with his version of a Bible Quilted dinosaur. It was his unique way of showing me “I see you; I hear you, Mom.”
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.
Have you picked your “word” for the year yet? Or are you wondering what all the buzz is about to adopt a word for the year?
My social media feed is full of people sharing #onelittleword for 2018. For some reason this makes me a little squirmy. It’s like committing to walk 10 miles in brand new shoes that haven’t been worn and truly lived in yet. I need a little more time to make sure it fits.
I like to gel with my word for a while, often carrying it around with me during the busy months of November & December, test driving it a while. Then when January roars in and I’m still recovering from the holiday surge, I’m able to embrace my word more fully because it feels more like a friend than a forced acquaintance.
All that to say – I’ve got my word for 2018, but I’m savoring it a bit before I’m ready to share it.
I’m also still reminiscing a bit with my word palfrom 2017, gleaning some truths I learned about myself as I focused on it throughout this past year. I’m not quite ready to relinquish it’s friendly presence in my daily thoughts.
“How do you choose your word?” – – – “What do you do with it?”
I’ve only done a “word of the year” the past few years, playing around with this concept in different ways. I think each of us has to figure out what meaning a “word of the year” has for us… or else it feels a little hollow and something else we have to keep up with.
Words are powerful. We can use them in ways that hurt or help. We can inflict them upon others or nurture with them in encouraging tones. Choosing ONE from all the words is a little daunting, isn’t it?
This idea initially intrigued me as a means to be more intentional in a particular area of my life or to use it as an overall attitude focus. I found myself utilizing my #onelittleword throughout the year as a lense to tweak my perspective when I felt stressed or was going through unfamiliar transitions.
Last year my word was RHYTHM. I claimed it to seek out ways to develop a flexible flow to all the ongoing events in my life, but not something that would impose a structured routine that would go awry at the first kink thrown at me. I gave myself permission to consider the rhythms of different seasons in our family life, allowing some things to slide away when other things needed to be more of a focal point.
I started by taking a nerdy stroll through an actual dictionary and cutting out the definition to place on my journal page.
Then I sought out some synonyms to incorporate in the page title, focusing on the strength of this word’s multiple meanings. I began to think about the “strong, regular repeated PATTERNs” in my own life and this gave me direction for a variety of ways to savor the rhythms I’ve established in my home. Rather than see some of our daily chores as monotonous, through this rhythm perspective, I could see them as a way of maintaining a consistent tempo in our daily lives.
We all know that antsy feeling of things being out of balance in our lives, right? Most likely it’s when we’re out of our natural rhythms…maybe a drastic life event has shifted us or we’re at odds in a relationship. The more I sought out ways to nurture a healthy Rhythm in my own personal life, the more capable I was of identifying ways to restore a more steady cadence for the rest of my family.
When stress or time pressures quickened the family pace too fast, each of us felt a heightened pulse of being off-kilter. During these times I tried to hunker down in theWORD and regain my own equilibrium, often by awakening in the wee morning hours before the thrum of the household beat even started. As I Bible Quilted® verses on this theme of Rhythm, I was reminded that even Jesus got up early in the morning and went to a solitary place to pray (Mark 1:35). I clung to the promise of learning “unforced rhythms of grace” (Matthew 11:28-30 Message version) to navigate turbulent times.
The New Year is a chance to begin anew. It provides fertile ground for change in some area of our lives. Resolutions may fall by the wayside, but to have a topic/theme to focus on for the year seems do-able. As I learned from my word pal, Rhythm, the more we’re able to establish a firm foundation, the more capable we are of navigating the ebb and flow of life a little more graciously. We have a tether to ground us. As we build upon our #onelittlewords year after year, our tethers become stronger. I’m beginning to see the connections of my words strengthen together over time, centering me to face the unknowns of the coming year.
Every morning we have the option to choose JOY and be THANKFUL in the midst of our circumstances. That is easier said than done on any given day. There is a real enemy of our hearts that’s primary focus is to snatch our joy at every opportunity he can.
So I’m confident that this is what happened to my morning as I opened the curtains and saw an amazing sunrise and paused to be thankful… only to then turn and take my boys to school and immediately back my car into my husband truck. You can imagine how my joy quickly dissolved. (Gratefully, I have an amazing gem of a husband.)
Many years ago I tore out an article from a Family Magazine that I have read over and over for 20 years now. It talks about being thankful in ALL circumstances and looking at thepositive even when the situation may seem bleak.
When you have mountains of laundry in front of you…instead of grumbling, it said to be thankful for those loads because it means your family has plenty of warm, clean clothes to wear daily.
When it is time to prepare a meal AGAIN, be thankful that your pantry is well-stocked and your home has many mouths to feed.
It went on to talk about being thankful in washing dishes, yard work, and all the menial tasks that are easy to grumble about when you are in the midst of them. Some of these tasks are a forced “slow down” for us. This can bring its own agitation to the table in a society that travels at a fast-paced sprint. But I have seen a lot of growth in my own life when I take the time to slow down in my days and feel the full impact of the chores I’m steeped in.
Sometimes the slowing down brings am immediate reflection of Joy that I can see. And sometime the slow down is an excruciatingly long test of patience in a lesson that I may need to learn, or it is to stop me and safe-guard my heart until it is clear for me to move on.
The chores of life are daily, but so is the abundance of Joy that the Lord has for us. My prayer for you is that the Lord teach you the secret of being content in every situation, through Him who gives you strength. (Philippians 4:12-13)
Practicing this in my own life, has brought comfort to my heart in hard seasons, respite to my spirit in exhausting seasons, and Joy unspeakable in the details of Love that God showers on us in all seasons. I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart! Psalm 9:1