Leaving room for Joyful Monotony

Summer has settled upon us and ushered in a new season lacking in routines and trending in refereeing daily arguments (my go-to line: “figure it out!”)

I resolved a while ago that this summer would be different than last.

I did my best last summer, but it was too much. With the launch of my book in August, a couple of big trips that took us to opposite ends of the country, and a very full season for Evan in his career, most of our days felt like a spinning top that took a long while to slow, finally throwing me out, off balance, somewhere in the middle of the fall.

As the end of school approached this year, I recognized a huge desire to do a little less seeking and striving, and a little more being and growing. And the thing about that is that you need to leave room for it.

It’s not so much a feeling of burnout as it is a heightened awareness about this way of life I’m currently desiring. A simple change: a wanting to feel and think and even write but without the need to consider documenting, capturing, publicizing it all.

It’s not about the calendar season, but a personal season for me right now where I’m finding myself setting comfortably into the middle. Sometimes, the appeal of trying to become the best, the most, the greatest takes over, and it’s easy to forget how wonderful the middle is; it’s really quite freeing.

I’m currently reading the book The Life You’ve Always Wanted by John Ortberg, and though the title is a bit cliché, the content is stirring and compelling. Ortberg quotes G.K. Chesterton in a section about the joy that resides in the heart of God.

Chesterton reminds us that children have abounding vitality, a free and fierce spirit, and they usually want things repeated and unchanged. ‘Do it again!’ they exclaim over and over. Adults, however, are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But “perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony.”

Every day, God says to the sun and to the moon ‘Do it again!’ And they do. And he never tires of marveling at their beauty.

As this new season approaches, a summer filled with opportunity but also repetitiveness, I’ve been making room for joyful monotony.

In Romans 12:2, God invites to be transformed – not to transform ourselves. To do this, we need to allow room in our lives, space in our minds, to let Him in.

I’ll be stepping away from my blog for the next couple of months, to enjoy the middle without striving, to savor the joyful monotony of these summer days.

I only have one summer where my kids are 5 and 7, and each day opens with bouncing excitement about the “adventures” that await us – in between chores and camps, there is the clear blue of the pool and the sweetness of a surprise doughnut treat and the spontaneity of a picnic dinner with friends at the park.

Do it again?

Yes, we will. Yes, we have the space. Yes, we have nowhere else to be but the joy we are experiencing right here.

My book, A Different Beautiful, is now available for order!
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{Celebrating Beautiful} Surrendering and Controlling Our Fears by Tracie Miles

In blogging for the last 5 years, I’ve written about many different topics, but one theme that has remained constant has been my focus of sharing about how our family is discovering the beauty in difference and choosing to celebrate the incredible beauty all around us, and how we want to encourage others to do the same. After connecting with and reading about so many amazing people and families doing so many amazing things, I started a guest blog series called Celebrating Beautiful, as it relates to beauty however it can be interpreted: parenthood, faith, your kids, an experience, home, and so much more.
 
I’m so glad to welcome Tracie Miles to my blog today! Tracie and I were introduced by our mutual friend Courtney DeFeo last year, and I had the privilege of reading and endorsing Tracie’s newly released book Unsinkable Faith: God-Filled Strategies to Transform the Way You Think, Feel, and Live. I found her book to be a fascinating weave of scientific research and God’s truth, offering an empowering message of resiliency and encouragement – and I’m honored to be able to give away a copy today! Simply leave a comment on this post and I’ll select a winner by Sunday, June 11 at 5:00 p.m. CST.
Here is Tracie Miles on Celebrating Beautiful…

Life had been hard for many, many months. My marriage of twenty-five years had abruptly ended due to circumstances beyond my control, and overpowering negative emotions seemed to be running my life.  The day finally came when I was sick and tired of feeling sad and spent, and I knew I needed to retake control of my thoughts.  I was tired of letting my feelings boss me around, and I longed to break free from their stronghold over my mind and my life, but also my peace, joy and happiness.  I could either control my mind, or it would continue to control me.

I decided to spend some time in prayer and bowed my head. I began asking God to show me what I needed to let go of – mentally and emotionally – and to equip me spiritually to break free from the negative thoughts consuming my heart and mind. God soon helped me realize that I had been struggling with many negative mental strongholds, but there was one that had a life-robbing one chokehold on my peace.

Fear.

Suffocating fears of what the present day, and the future, might hold would crush my spirit every morning before I even got out of bed, and would rob me of sleep at night. Fears of how my children were feeling and coping. Countless fears that would always morph in my mind the more I thought about them, forcing me into thinking about all the “what-ifs”. Nine times out of ten my what-ifs were followed up with fear-inducing thoughts of worse-case-scenario theories that would pull me deeper into sadness, even if they weren’t entirely rational.

So, in my prayer time that morning, God opened my eyes to the invisible enemy I had been fighting –my thoughts which were constantly igniting fear in my heart. I committed to working on controlling my thoughts so they didn’t control my life and protecting myself from having a case of bad attitude by surrendering all the fears that had been building up in my head for months.

I got out my journal and began to write down my fears one by one and to my surprise, within minutes, I had written out thirty-three fears that had slid off the tip of my pencil with ease. Thirty. Three. Paralyzing. Fears. I didn’t realize until that very moment how my fears had multiplied or how much they were damaging my attitude, much less that they had such a strong power over my thoughts, emotions and perspectives.

Immediately, I surrendered those fears and all the accompanying emotions to God in prayer. I wanted to break free from fear, and grab onto hope instead.  I committed to God and myself to take a stand against letting them slip back into my subconscious. The difference that prayer of surrender made in my outlook and my life going forward amazed even me. Slowly, yet assuredly, as I intentionally captured fearful thoughts before they crushed by spirit or threatened my peace, my attitude began to change. I invited God to help me transform my thoughts, and that is exactly what He did.

Isaiah 41:10 says, “fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (ESV) These words were primarily directed to the Jews who had been exiled during their difficult captivity in Babylon. God was reminding them they were His, and therefore, had nothing to fear. We are also His. Therefore, we have nothing to fear.

God’s promise to be with His beloveds, to strengthen those who need strength and to uphold with His own mighty righteous hand, is as valid for us today as it was for Jews back then. We won’t always be protected from things that eilicit fear in our hearts, but we can always surrender those fears to God and trust that not only will He will never leave our side, but He is more than capable of handling whatever it is that is filling our hearts and minds with fear.

Although most of my fear-induced emotions and feelings that fretful night were valid, I had allowed them to take over my mind and, in turn, take over my life and my happiness, in addition to robbing me of much-needed sleep and rest.

Maybe today you are struggling with fear regarding a difficult circumstance in your own life. Maybe you’ve received a concerning health diagnosis, a termination at work, or are facing living life without someone you once held dear. Maybe the bank account is low, the refrigerator is empty, and the bills are due, and you have no idea where money is going to come from. All valid fears that elicit valid emotions. Yet regardless of the scary unknowns in your life which seem large and looming, many of which you feel inadequate to handle, there is great news, my friend.

We all have the power of the Holy Spirit within us to break down the stronghold of fear and grab hold of the peace God offers.  We can all learn to submit our fears to God if we choose to put our trust in Him, instead of tossing and turning every night under the weight of worry.

How wonderful would life be without the presence of fear? How much happier would you feel if you no longer had to carry the burden of worry? That type of living is possible, as we learn to focus on faith instead of fear.

We can control our mind, or it will control us.  The choice is ours.Tracie Miles is a national speaker and author with the internationally known Proverbs 31 Ministries and has spent the last eleven years inspiring women to live intentionally for Christ  In addition to Unsinkable Faith, she is also the author of two best selling books, Your Life Still Counts and Stressed Less Living. She is also a contributing author to the popular Zondervan NIV Women’s Devotional Bible, and the Proverbs 31 Encouragement for Today Daily Devotional Book. Tracie has 3 children and lives in Charlotte, North Carolina. You can connect with her on her blog.

Want to win a copy of Tracie’s book Unsinkable Faith today? Simply leave a comment on this post and I’ll select a winner by Sunday, June 11 at 5:00 p.m. CST!