A few years ago while I was a chaplain in a hospital, one of our instructors asked a group of us, “What makes a good day?” Because we worked in a hospital day after day and saw things we wish we could forget, we quickly escaped in our minds. Someone said, “A day on the beach.” Another one said, “A long hike in Colorado.” The one next to me said, “Time with my wife and kids.” I remember saying something like, “A airplane ticket to any destination.” We had a lot of fun with our answers. Basically it was anywhere but where we were.
That is what our instructor hoped we would say. He hoped we would define a good day with dreams, because then he gave us a follow up question, “Why does a good day have to be an extraordinary day…what about ordinary days? Aren’t they good too.” Of course he was right. Because isn’t it the ordinary days that we miss the most when we look back on our lives? Or if we are in the midst of grief…we miss the normal days. The days where we have a cup of coffee together with someone we love at the kitchen table. The days when we laugh because of something one of our children says from the back seat. The days when we read a good book or cook a simple dinner for our family to enjoy. Ordinary days. They are good days too…maybe even the best days.
There is something that happens in life. It is subtle and silent. Through all the information we receive on a daily basis, there is a subtle message that says we have less than what we deserve. Our lives are not exciting enough. Our car, washing machine, grill (I have heard that the Green Egg grill is pretty cool), are out of date and we need a new one. Message after message, we start to believe these subtle messages. They become a part of our daily chatter. And before we know it, ordinary days loose their shine.
In my life, my delightful days begin with a to-do-list. I keep a running list in my kitchen and attend to it before I go to bed. That way I know what I need to do and I do not have to worry about it all night. Then in the morning, I make a cup of coffee and read a chapter or two of a book that enlightens me or gives me something to think about concerning my faith. I write my prayers down in a prayer journal. It is a gift to read back over prayers that have been answered. I choose to have a good attitude for the day. And then I work for God. I listen to the nudges God sends me to call a friend, write a note or serve someone. I work on our non-profit because that is my current mission.
And in all of this, my day turns out to be delightful simply because my day is less about me and more about God. I encourage you to find your rhythm. Find your recipe for a delightful day. Claim your place in God’s plan for this world and make things happen. If you are willing, God will use you.
You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. Matthew 5:14-16
That’s right…Milk Chocolate Sea Salt Caramels. My husband brought them home last night. We were celebrating because good things have been happening in our life lately. But today was a different day. My assessment…too many good things today. So many in fact that the first time I relaxed as at 9:13pm! Since my feet hit the floor this morning I have been running here and there running everywhere. Everywhere. Lunch at school. Dog to the groomer. Grocery store. Church for Bible study. Daisy troop. Willy Wonka Rehearsal.
This day could have easily been stressful and miserable for many reasons. One moment, when I was just on the edge of loosing control of my attitude (which means the rest of the day would be derailed and follow me down the impatient, anxious and frustrated path), I stopped. I decided an apology was necessary. It was well received. Then I focused on being in the moment. Just being with my children and friends.
The reward for submitting to the day was spending time with a friend with horses and goats. Instead of hurrying on to the next appointment, I stopped the car. We hopped a fence and enjoyed being with beautiful horses on a beautiful day. We opened another fence and enjoyed 15 playful goats. We relaxed and our day turned better.
Some days when there are too many good things happening because we are pouring ourselves into people we love the most, there are big reasons to celebrate. (Even if our first moment to relax at the end of the day is after 9pm, there is still reason to celebrate.) Not that we need an excuse to enjoy a chocolate treat on any day…but on days like this it tastes even sweeter.
Tomorrow I will try to live more balanced and I can celebrate that too with more chocolate!
In my laundry room I have a cute knick-knak that is a reminder to me. It says, “When life feels like a roller coaster, throw your hands up and enjoy the ride!” It is a good reminder for me because my natural reaction to difficult news or a difficult day is to fix it so we can move one. My natural response to stress is to cover it up, put a bandaid on it…keeping moving. I am not sure where I learned this response or if I was born with it, but it is my gut reaction to stress, difficult news, suffering, etc.
What I have learned in my faith journey is that I am really not in control. Period. I am not important enough or powerful enough to or smart enough to “fix” things. The fact that I believed for a long time that I could “fix” life is a little narcissistic. (Confession #10,784) More than a character flaw, it was exhausting! Very exhausting! Through faith I have learned that the first step I need to take is to let all of the pieces of the puzzle fall to the floor. Just let them fall. Just doing that one thing allows more space for breathing. Just breath. When I get to this point, I am able to pick up the pieces that truly matter and let the others ones stay on the floor…maybe forever.
This week I found that I could not stop the feeling of urgency all around me. I get tired of going to multiple stores for multiple reasons. The back of my car was full of different bags that needed to go to different places. My solution…a pound cake. I felt the need to throw some flour in a mixer with eggs and tons of sugar and butter. It felt good to turn on the mixer and make some noise. Some different noise. I didn’t share the bowl or the spoon with my daughters. I licked it by myself. It was good. The cake tasted delicious when we sat around our table at 7pm to enjoy a warm slice. A slice of peace.
I may not be able to stop the pace of life around me…but I can stop and make a pound cake. I did. It was good. Just like life is good when I accept there are some things I can’t fix! Today I am reminded that Jesus is my savior because He saves me from a life of control…daily.
Now…pre-heat your oven to 325 degrees and find your mixer! Create some yummy peace. The shopping list can wait.
Don’t be afraid, for I am with you.
Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you.
I will hold you up with my victorious right hand. (Isaiah 41:10)