This Place Called Peace

Denying reality is something I’ve been told I’m good (or is it bad?) at doing. I can get into my own little world and steadfastly convince myself that’s all there is.

This is probably a trait I picked up over the years of having thyroid and adrenal problems – when hearing about stressful/sad things could literally send me to bed for days. And while it can be a helpful coping mechanism, it isn’t always. And sometimes things happen that simply splash reality in my face like a bucket of iced tea.

But guess, what? Even during those times, God is good.

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Our reality doesn’t change the goodness and love of God. Isn’t that a beautiful thought to dwell on?

Sometimes it feels like the world is blowing up.
Or slowly spinning to a standstill.
Or going completely crazy.
Or being flippant.

Or throwing so many different emotions and feelings into the mix that it then spits out and covers everything so that it’s hard to know what to think, or even where to go to think, or if thinking is even an option when reacting is right there, begging to be a viable means of coping.

I’m not upset.
I’m not scared.
I’m not worried. 

But I do see the seriousness of what’s going on around me.
I am concerned.
I am saddened.
And I am praying for those who this is deeply affecting.
Lives are being changed for forever, all around the world. There are people who can’t protect themselves. There are countries full of villages that don’t have the means to take the measures that people in developing countries gripe about. There are people whose livelihoods are being threatened, and others whose very lives are going to be snatched.

On Sunday, while visiting my family back in Ohio, I found out that where I work is being closed for the next couple of weeks. While that wasn’t completely unexpected, it did rock my world. Suddenly my well-planned life was shot into unexplored territory and it hit hard.

It took a couple of hours for me to get past my selfish tendencies and focus on the bigger picture.

The picture that includes an abundant amount of God’s love and peace. The picture that reminds me that God is good, no matter what I’m feeling or experiencing. The picture that excites me because God is God and cares about the humans He’s created.

Nearly every morning for the last few weeks I’ve been reading Psalm twenty-seven. It’s beautiful. It’s peace-filled. And it reminds me of what’s really important in life.

One of the verses says When You said, “Seek My face,” my heart said to You, “Your face, Lord, I will seek.” And that’s what I’m doing today. And what I’ll be doing tomorrow. And the next day. Because the denying of reality doesn’t solve anything, but dwelling on the truth of a never-changing God does.

Today I choose to rejoice.
And to pray for those whose lives are falling apart.
And to remember that although things are completely out of my control, nothing is ever out of God’s control.

Today is the day the Lord has made, and I’m thankful to be living it.

Having Everything Under Control (A Day in My Life at Work)

Sometimes I pat myself on the back – pretty thrilled that I have everything so under control. Take yesterday, for instance.

I woke up at 6:00 knowing I had a project to work on before leaving for my job. The morning started off well, I’d checked my work app several times and knew I had to be there at 8:30, which meant I should leave around 8:15. I had a good quiet time, ate my supper leftovers for breakfast, and was powering my way through the project when I heard my neighbor’s car starting.

My neighbor and I work at the same place, so I was like “Oh, I’d better check the time again to make sure I leave early enough.” The phone read 8:10 and that’s when it hit me – my boss had asked if I could come in at 8:00 to help with an extra project. Oh well.

About an hour later while attending a meeting I glanced around, looking for one of my coworkers that was pretty vital to have around in order for me to finish the project I’d been working on. She was a no-show. I sent off a quick text and she replied that she was sick at home. Thus prompted me to scurry around trying to get my work done while also talking to seven people in different locations to see if we could complete the project later in the week. They all agreed so I moved on with the day.

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Later I was working my way through some paperwork for the uniform department at work (which I’m in charge of) when I noticed the spreadsheet I’m supposed to keep updated for our HR office was missing a pretty important piece of information from back in January. I headed to the HR office to apologize and see if they could help me figure out what I’d done wrong.

That prompted a treasure hunt where I scoured six weeks’ worth of electronic and physical paperwork, looked through our uniform inventory, and talked to my manager. After a lot of piecing things together, praying that I’d find the correct information, and a helpful email, we finally figured out what happened, but the answer meant I had to call my contact where we get our uniforms to talk about the issue with him.

My day continued on until I got a notification that a uniform-related meeting was scheduled for the 11th of March. I’d already requested – and received – that time off from my manger. But back when I asked for the time off so I could visit my family back home for a special occasion, I hadn’t thought through everything. See, I work mainly as part of SET (Service Excellence Team), but I also work for another department, which is totally unrelated to being a SET member. Over the winter there’s not a ton of time-sensitive work that needs to be done with the second department, so it never even entered my mind to ask that manager if I could have the time off.

When I finally did think to tell my second manager I’d be gone for several days (she doesn’t control my schedule at all), I assured her that I’d make sure everything got done correctly while I was gone. She was fine with that, but as time progressed I realized there was a lot more to be done while I was gone than I had thought. Thus, when I got the above-mentioned notification I wasn’t sure what to do.

I went to Mandy (who I’d received the notification from) and we brainstormed for a few minutes. She was already doing extra work to cover for me being gone, so I ended up offering to come back to work early so I could cover the meeting since she couldn’t. Mandy assured me that I shouldn’t do that and then hit on the idea ask Mark (who’s the only person besides me and my manager who knows how to do what needed to be done) if he could help out. The big issue is he’s in a completely different department and so we weren’t sure if he’d be able to – or if he was even working that day.

I hurried off to talk with Mark, who was scheduled for the 11th and was more than happy to take my place at the meeting if his manager could spare him. So I went to talk with his manager. After explaining the situation to her she looked at her department’s plans for the 11th and agreed she could free him up so he could take my place. Since everything was all worked out, I went and talked to my manager to make sure she was okay with the changes. She was, which meant I then had to go talk to Mandy and then Mark and let them know everything was a go.

So, as you can see, I’ve become a total pro at having everything under control.

And, while that’s obviously me joking, the truth of the matter is that yesterday wasn’t stressful. There were a few moments when I felt a niggling of stress and really wasn’t sure what to do in order to find an important piece of information, but then I was able to breathe deeply and go through the process logically.

I’ve been blessed to work with incredible people who give me the freedom to learn from my mistakes, and although they hold me accountable, I never feel shamed or put down by them.

This last year I’ve been really working on seeking to still my soul through remembering God’s goodness and praising Him instead of letting circumstances determine how I feel. And, although I still have a long way to go I can see I’ve come a long way and I’m very thankful for that.

Now, I’m off to work again where I can hopefully complete the aforementioned project.

(And I literally just received a text from that vital co-worker letting me know she wasn’t sure if she’ll be in today or not, so I guess we’ll see how the day goes…) 😉

The Expedition of Learning Change

During my early morning ponderings, I’ve come to a rather enlightening (and quite obvious) conclusion: Life is exceedingly full of change and transitions and therefore I must find a way to deal with them faster.

The last year and a half I’ve been working at learning how to embrace change instead of fighting it – to learn how to not just accept change, but eventually get excited about it. It’s not easy, and I fail quite often, but at least I’m on the right track and when I catch myself beginning to get uptight about change I remind myself to relax and go with the flow.

I spend my time leading up to a transition asking a lot of questions, feeling out the situation, praying about it, and preparing the best I can so that when the change takes place I’m ready to enter a new routine.

Changes have gotten a lot smoother for me as I follow that method. And that’s a good thing because the last two and a half years of my life have been full of non-stop change. Many of my family members have moved during that time, two of my sisters got married, moved out of state and started a completely new life…the list goes on.

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Recently it hit me that January is the only month in the last year when I didn’t feel like I was having change thrown at me from all directions – the only time when I could focus on the moment, on life, and on making sure my life is on track.

So much of my time is spent playing catch up and learning new routines. I get used to one aspect of life only to look up and find that another change is looming ahead of me and I scramble to prepare for more changes.

Y’all, I literally wrote my birthday thank you notes in January – my birthday is at the end of September. This isn’t because I forgot about writing them, no, I thought about them on a regular basis. This is because all my brain power felt like it was being used up on focusing on the day to day, change, and learning new routines.

January was an absolutely amazing month. Work was slower and there were no new changes, so I got caught up on tons of things. I felt like I was thriving. It was delightful and I felt like everything in life was falling into place. Then the second week of February hit me with another load of change and all at once I was in the mire again – focusing and learning more than thriving and doing.

And thus the pondering – the solution hunting – began.

I’m pretty happy with how I’m learning to deal with change. I just need to figure out a way to expedite the process, because at the rate I’m going I’ll nearly alwasy be in Mire-Mode, slogging through change and missing the feeling of freedom that accompanies thriving in the normal.

The other day I suddenly imagined myself as a mom barely getting used to having a baby before I have to get used to toddler mode, and that trend continuing for the rest of my life. Not cool, right?

Nowadays when I think about change, I also think and pray about how I can learn to get used to change faster. How I can process it in a healthy, but quick, way. How I can find routines that are versatile enough to sway with the ebb and flow of change, but solid enough to help my routine-loving soul thrive.

How are some ways that you deal with getting used to change faster?

The Next Phase

Life is a little less crazy at work during the first few months of the year – that means I’m only working a normal 40 hours a week, and with consistent timings. I also feel like I’ve finally completely settled into life – both in my little home and with my position on SET.

It takes me a while to get into the rhythm of life, and I’m very much a routine person, so when my routine is being shaken up on a daily basis, it’s hard for me to keep up with all aspects of life.

Last summer I moved (as you know), and living on my own took me a couple of months to get used to. Plus, my job was new, and that took even more getting used to. Then I settled in, and I was good. Then I changed positions at work (as you know) and once again I was thrown into a tailspin of trying to get my footing in a new way of life.

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When I was confident in my role as a SET member, Christmas Town was looming ahead of us, and the hours of operation at the Museum changed, as did the tasks of all the SET members. So, once again I had to learn a new set of activities to participate in, plus having my hours all over the map which was exceedingly fun, but rather disruptive to my precious routine.

And then January arrived, and I have that elusive and alluring consistency back within my sights. During the last week and a half, I got caught up on things that I’ve literally been wanting to do since I joined SET on September 30th. It feels so good to be able to sit down and cross things off my mental to-do list and feel the freedom of knowing I’m catching up with life.

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I know it takes me longer than average to settle into a new workplace, lifestyle, or routine, and I’ve been working at not balking at that, but rather going at a steady pace. Pushing myself outside my comfort zone is something I do on a daily basis, not necessarily because what I do is so crazy, but because my comfort zone isn’t exceedingly large to start out with. This is something I’ve pondered a lot – I think it’s partly because of my personality, and partly because I spent so many years with health issues so that daily living was outside my comfort zone.

Each morning I wake up feeling grateful and thanking God for my life. I’m so thankful I can work. I can live. I can breathe, stand, and move without the crushing weight of exhaustion and pain dogging my every moment.

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Now that I’m finally feeling settled in with living on my own, work, and my no-longer-new position at work, I’m turning my focus towards the next big thing: Mainly, finding a life outside of work.

The common refrain among my boss and teammates is that I really need to get a life and stop offering to work so much overtime and hanging out at work off the clock. So I’m trying.

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Last week one of my coworkers posted on Facebook, asking if anyone wanted to go on a hike – I was free the day they were talking about for the excursion, so I commented that I’d like to join them. It sounded like fun, and although it was totally outside my comfort zone to join an adventure when I really wasn’t sure what it would be like, I was determined to just go with the flow and not second guess my decision.

And do you know what? It was tons of fun. We went to Red River Gorge – two hours away from where I live – and the carpooling time was as much fun as the hike itself. We had delightful, stimulating conversations, shared healthy snacks, tired our legs out hiking up and down and the hills, and sat enjoying fantastic views.

This new phase of life – the phase when I bust my comfort zone walls into bitty little pieces doing “unnecessary” things – has arrived. And, although it’s not always easy, it is rewarding, and I’m thankful for the people in my life who make it exceedingly fun.

The Random Question Game

One of my favorite conversation starters has always been to ask someone what are three random facts about themselves.

I’m the kind of person who always has a boatload of randomness stirring around in their brain, so this type of exercise is exceedingly easy for me. I can easily spew out a large amount of silly, informative, or interesting things about myself (or any of my friends), but I’ve discovered that isn’t the way other people’s brains work.

Recently at work, some of my teammates and I began asking this question to other coworkers. It’s been incredibly interesting to hear the answers and has really helped me get to know the people around me better. To make the game more fun, my teammates have even taken turns answering the question for each other. Since our team is relatively small (seven people out of about two-hundred), we get to work together a lot and have lots of time for good conversations.

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Some of the random facts that my teammates have said about me include:

-I come from a big family
-That I currently live in a camper with no running water
-That I have two co-authored books (which are sold at the museum where we work)
-That I volunteer to help with various jobs too much

Some of the random facts I give about myself include:

-I once ate a small chip off a fossilized T-Rex tooth (years ago because it was too fragile to put back on the tooth)
-I slept in a tipi for nine months
-I’ve been to five continents

Meanwhile, some of the facts we’ve come up with about our teammates (or heard from our co-workers) include:

-One lady started and sold three different companies
-One guy was born in such a small town that he’s the only guy with a birth certificate that says said town
-Years ago one guy was in the army in Europe and wrote an evacuation plan for dependants that was passed by Congress
-When one lady was born, she had her cord wrapped around her neck twice
-One lady speaks Spanish fluently
-One lady’s mom was named after a candy bar that her mom enjoyed while being pregnant

Getting to know people through random facts about themselves is so much fun. I’ve worked with some of these people on a daily basis for the last several months, yet when you start asking for random facts, you discover a whole new side of them.

What are some random facts about you?

Oaks of Righteousness

Amusingly enough, if you were to ask me what one of the biggest changes in my life was last year, one of the first things to spring to mind is that I went from being a night owl to an early morning person.

I keep contributing that to the fact that I moved out of my bustling childhood home where introverted me got the most quiet time late at night, but in reality, that’s not the case. See, it was near nearly a year ago – before moving had even entered my realm of possibilities – that I started my very solid morning routine that has become my favorite.

And, it was with the beginning of said routine that mornings began to be my favorite. Each morning I get up, make my bed, get ready for the day, brew myself a mug of coffee, then snuggle up with low lighting, a fuzzy blanket, my Bible, prayer journal, and a good, non-fiction book to study. Then I settle in for rejuvenation of the soul.

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This time is special for me because it’s before the rest of the world is expecting anything from me so I don’t have to reply to texts, worry about being late to anything, or engage other people in conversation. It’s simply time for me to spend with God and grow, seek, and learn.

A year or so ago I had a conversation with a friend where I expressed frustration at not being able to see bigger and more apparent big things happening in my life. It felt like I was treading water versus making ripples that would affect the world like I wanted my life to. She (wisely) pointed out that maybe this is my season of life to dig roots down deep and be faithful in the little things.

That was one of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever gotten, and I’ve thought about it often in the intervening months. Now instead of worrying that I’m not leaving an impressive legacy, I’ve stopped trying to jump on the wheel of quick success and instead focus on digging roots deep.

The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor.

He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn,

And provide for those who grieve in Zion– to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor. Isaiah 61:1-3

‘Tis a New Chapter Indeed

I didn’t stay up until midnight last night. That was on purpose, and I had a delightful time greeting the New Year with the soft light of dawn.

Beginnings of months always make me happy – it’s like a fresh paragraph, just awaiting thoughts, experiences, and adventures to spill on to the page. A new year is even better. It’s a new chapter, fresh, clean, promising to be full of surprises. A new decade? Well, I’ve lived through so few of those that I don’t even know where to categorize them.

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If you’ve been around long you know I don’t do New Year’s Resolutions. From what I’ve heard, those don’t seem to stick, and who wants to start out a new chapter with a failure? Instead, I write goals. And normally I’m pretty good at keeping my goals because I’m a very goal-oriented person.

Twenty-nineteen kinda laughed in my face and not only did I literally lose my goals (I’m still not sure how that happened since I had them multiple places), but my life went in a way different – and wildly more exciting – direction than what I’d imagined.

The last known list of goals I have from 2019 was when I reassessed my goals for the year – something I highly recommend since looking at twelve months is important, but kinda hard to predict.

Although I lost my Goal List, I did still have a mental inventory of some of the goals and plugged away at them during the last six months of the year. Since I’m used to recording goal wins and losses here in my little sphere of the internet, here’s what I have/can remember:

  • All writing goals – NO (When I move to Kentucky I decided I needed to put writing on hold until I settled in. Then after I’d finally settled into one job, I was promoted and had to learn a whole new set of responsibilities)
  •  Track all the money I spend for three months – YES (more like six)
  • Walk at least twenty miles a month – YES (December I walked 143 miles)
  • Read two nonfiction books a month – YES (I read forty-two nonfiction altogether)
  • Add all books to Goodreads – YES (I actually changed this do Instagram stories, but for the same reason I was going to do Goodreads)
  • Write monthly reviews – NO
  • Write monthly and weekly goals – NO (I stopped around October)
  • Journal once a week – YES
  • Four Instagram pictures a month – YES and NO (Did until I reassessed in May and decided to drop the goal)
  • Blog twice a week – NO
  • Drink Ionized water and share devotional thought every day – YES
  • Go paleo (in May changed to no sugar or gluten) for 100 days – YES

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Did I do well with my goals last year? Well, that’s subject to debate. Do I wish I’d done better? On some of them (like blogging) the answer is yes. On others (like writing) I knew I needed to set them aside and focus on other things, so I’m more than okay with DNFing those goals.

As a new chapter in life opens in front of me, I’m thankful for the ability to write goals, and the freedom to let go/change/reassess goals as life changes. Goals are tools, not chains, and I’m excited for the tools I have in my bag this year. 😉

Happy Twenty-twenty, folks!

Did you write goals in 2019? If so, how did you do with accomplishing them?