I choose to believe that there may be a thousand big moments embedded in this day, waiting to be discovered like tiny shards of gold ... the daily, tiny moments of courage and forgiveness and hope that we grab on to and extend to one another.
SHAUNA NIEQUIST (COLD TANGERINES)
I love, love, love autumn. And so I am sharing some of my home photos with you today--in no order, but just fun pics I have been taking around my house this fall.
The sunny but cool days with a carpet of leaves to crunch under my foot and the glory of reds, golds, yellows and orange singing from every tree fills me to the brim with happiness. I am taking time to enjoy and breathe in the beauty. Each day since I have been home, (even though my suitcase is not totally unpacked and my house not wholly straightened), I have sipped tea on my front porch in front of my aspens and paused to notice the beauty.
I am also Owning my Life this fall by saying no to some commitments. My daughter, Joy, is here for a few months and I am drinking in the pleasure of her being here again as often as I can. We two are kindred spirits, and spend our time together giggling, chattering and enjoying the same things. I am also in the midst of writing a new book or two, (that just came my way), even though my newest book has not yet been released. (And I will tell you about it soon--as it is one of my favorites!)
So, I may not be able to do as many podcasts as I might have if she was not home, (sorry! But Kristen and I have some already planned for you)
And I do not get to all of my correspondence. (just too much to do and too few hours, but I soooo love hearing from you. I just do not always get to answer back, as the day is over before I get to do all I want to do.)
But this year, I am seeking to breathe in peace, to be centered, to love well each day.
It means I cannot do everything or please every voice in my life, but I am happy to be living with a peaceful heart for choosing the commitments I think will be most important in the long run.
Now, I am clearing moments in my days to enjoy her and taking time to write messages in new books that I think will last long after I am not writing any more. (Thanks to my publisher, Tyndale, who keeps wanting more.)
What about you? What are you saying "no" to? What are you saying yes to? How are you controlling the chaos, or the "too busy" days? I hope this article will encourage you, and I hope you will take time this weekend to figure out how you want to Own Your Fall and home this year, so you can breathe peace each and every day.
Controlling Your Chaos
Baking chocolate chip cookies for the first time is a rite of passage in our family. I can remember the first time I helped my youngest son crack eggs, melt butter, and measure out dry ingredients. His little chest puffed with pride as he busied around the kitchen.
At one point, I turned around to answer the phone, and in the space of five seconds I heard a click, a whir, a “poof!” and a distressed five-year-old yelp. I turned around to see the kitchen enveloped in a cloud of flour, and my little baker boy with a look of surprise and desperation written in his furrowed eyebrows.
You can imagine my quick response. I dashed over, turned off the mixer, wiped off the flour from his terror-white face, put the lid on and helped him use the mixer correctly.
The natural response to chaos should be to stop it, clean up the effects of chaos, assess and fix the problem, and carry on. However, I think that when we encounter chaos in life, we often do not respond this way.
(At sunset, looking out over my porch from my rocking chair.)
I so often hear women wanting to know how to “find peace in the chaos,” rather than taming the chaos itself.
Imagine if, upon discovering the whirling, open blender, I said to my son, “Now, let’s just try to create peace in this chaos.” If we approach the chaos of our lives this way, we will either try to ignore the reality of it at our own peril, or we will focus only on the chaos and become caught in a life of damage-control.
Rather, we need to respond to it realistically, managing it wisely and objectively. The goal is a rich and fruitful life of living for the kingdom despite the reality of chaos. To begin managing the chaos in our lives, we must learn to identify the sources of chaos, isolate the voices that keep us from owning our lives, and learn to build our lives on a good foundation. Sources of chaos can be different in every person’s life.
Perhaps you have difficulty drawing boundaries and saying “no,” and that creates a life of chaotic attempts to please everyone by responding to their requests and needs. Perhaps you are an uncontrolled spender who finds yourself under pressure because of the fruits of your lack of frugality.
Perhaps you are not blessed with the gift of organization and your stuff, records, closet, and life are out of control.
Perhaps your calendar controls you, rather than you controlling it.
Whatever your sources of chaos, they cannot be managed until you acknowledge their power and presence in your life.
Once you have pinpointed sources of chaos in your life, you can become proactive and strategic in finding ways to manage chaos. Perhaps, as in the case of my sweet boy and the mixer, this means you must “turn off” the source of chaos for a while to reassess your priorities.
Identifying and strategically handling the chaos in your life will enable you to be in control of the chaos rather than letting the chaos of your life control you. Sometimes it may be as simple as separating yourself from the source of chaos long enough to make a new plan.
Often the chaos around us is not caused by uncontrollable circumstances, but by the incessant and confusing voices that call us in a thousand different directions. With all of the voices of media, friends, family, and church, we can become paralyzed in our good intentions to own our lives. The sheer volume of voices telling us how we ought to live or who we ought to be can become a chaos in itself.
I have often said that in the absence of biblical convictions even good people will go the way of culture. To truly own your life, you must identify the voices and messages that you are allowing to let shape your thoughts and emotions, and influence your life.
Before we can own our lives, we must learn to let God and his Word be the voice we listen to most closely. Part of owning life is living life, and life is inevitably messy once in a while.
Many years I ago, I reconciled myself to the fact that life will always be full of storms, ear-infected children, and flat tires. However, I also learned that the ability to handle the unexpected waves of life boils down to having a solid foundation from which to engage with life. Jesus speaks about building our lives on the rock of His words (Matthew 7:24-27).
To own our lives then means that not only do we manage chaos, but we develop and live out of strong biblical foundations. To stay strong in the storms of life, we must have a life founded securely on the rock of biblical truth.
May you find a way to bring order to your life, getting rid of chaos, and enjoy these glorious days and this season of life.
Chapter 2 of Own Your Life speaks of what it takes to control the chaos. Thanks for all of you who have written lately to tell me how much this book helped you. Hope you are enjoying these reviews of the content. (For those who have asked me, the content in the book is different than the content of this blog.)