Last week was not what I expected it would be.
It was one of those full, teach-class, pray-the-children-don’t-get-sick, shoulder-up-against-a-deadline kind of weeks. I’m not exactly complaining, though. I can’t because of one of my morning devotionals last week.
Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, … (Philippians 2:14-15)
Yeah, that one. I should have never read that. Reading that verse shook me out of the blissful folds of ignorance and right into the thick of action, being a doer of the word and not a hearer only. I had to get my shine on. I had to muzzle that complainer dog in my head and in my heart. (That dog can bark … and strangely resembles my real-life Jack Russell, hmmm … ) So, I’m not complaining.
I’m just thinking. A lot.
I’m not certain what I expected last week to be. I had filled my To Do plate at the Feast of Crazy Life with writing expectations, cross country meets for the children, a college class to teach, church activities, family feeding issues, good animal husbandry, marking the end of my 43rd year and beginning my 44th, article research, sustaining friendships, avoiding guilt because I hadn’t dusted anything in my house in weeks, and well, then there are those little personal hygiene and sleeping inconveniences.
I would get so much more done if I didn’t have to rest.
But I am beginning to think that maybe I would get more done if I just starting paying attention. Real, uninterrupted, focused, worthwhile attention.
On Monday of last week, I was still all lifted up from the Pastor’s sermon and from those neat memories that bubbled up from the bottom of my memory well. I think I must have flowers down there at the bottom somewhere, because when those bubbles rose to the top and burst, they were lovely and aromatic. Even though I faced some tough issues with teaching on Monday, things evened out somewhat.
Tuesday was a whirlwind. No, really. There was a whirlwind. The National Weather Service people called it an EF1. I called it surreal. I think I was okay until my Number-Three-Child said, “Mommy, why is the wind going in two different directions?” We were fortunate. We still have our house. In one piece.
On Wednesday, I left my college class with an awareness that we now live in a new illiteracy age, one that we have created in our public schools. My students cannot read my cursive writing on the white board, or my cursive writing that are the corrections on their papers. It’s not because my writing is terribly messy. It’s because schools don’t teach the beauty and discipline of cursive writing. I wrote in big, block letters on the board. It took more time and I missed the easy flow of one letter into the next.
Thursdays and Fridays of each week are blocked out to my freelance writing. The other days of the week have freelance writing tucked into mornings and late afternoons. Some evenings. But the long expanses of these two days are primarily filled with pitching articles, starting articles, researching articles, writing articles … articles about the things that matter, I hope. I finished and hit send on an email that I pray thrills my editor.
Saturday, I finished my 43rd year. See, we don’t start at one. We start at zero, right? And then we celebrate our first birthday at the end of our first year. Immediately, we begin working on our second year of life, only to celebrate the completion of our second year and the beginning of our third year, 365 days later. Get it? It actually makes us older than we like to think.
I pray it simply means I am wiser. And I tell that to my wrinkles and my gray hair and my skin and my joints that just don’t do things the way they used to do things. And I am good with that.
On Saturday night, as the long, long week came to a close, the Bigs and the Bug and my Music Man and my parents came together at my kitchen table. Mom and Dad brought Kentucky Fried Chicken, Mom made homemade red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese icing. I had a homemade card that was better than any store bought card. Ever.
As we converged and held hands to pray, my Music Man uttered a prayer of blessing and thanksgiving. He expressed gratitude for my first 43 years, then requested 43 more for us to share.
He wants to spend 43 more years with me.
I cried then.
Not because of the number, not because of the gray hairs and the wrinkles and the not-so-young skin that I cover so well. Not because it had just been a cram-packed busy week.
I cried because I have this Exceedingly, Abundantly kind of life that still manages to surprise me.
I helped students learn to construct better sentences, better paragraphs, better communication and connection. My people and my things were spared from the churning of the wind. I get to tell stories and people give me money to do it. I received a call out of the blue, asking to hire me to write more. I got to eat fried chicken on my birthday that I neither had to cook, nor clean up after. And I have a husband and family who really like me, even though they don’t have to.
Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen. (Ephesians 3:20-21)
This week, I again have a To Do plate full from the Feast of Crazy Life. I am on Fall Break from teaching, but traded those hours with writing. I have church meetings and children and chickens and … a forecast for two days’ worth of storms, some may be severe.
But I’m not complaining. I have this Exceedingly, Abundant God who has Exceedingly, Abundant power who wants to bless me in an Exceedingly, Abundant way … even when those blessings might come in the form of a tornado, or a frustration, or a fear that still needs to be conquered.
And I have decades of wisdom stored up to pay real, uninterrupted, focused, worthwhile attention to this little thing called life.
Exceedingly, Abundantly … yeah, I can say that. Thank God, I can say that.