Do you ever feel like you are in the right place at the just the right time? This morning my puppy, Britt, woke me at 5:45…my alarm was set for 6:30 and it didn’t seem worth it to go back to sleep, so I got up. We headed sleepily downstairs, she went out for a pee, I filled up a big mason jar of water and grabbed a straw. We reconvened on the couch where she curled back up and slept and I stretched out and trained my ear to the birds singing nearby. I eventually picked up my tattered copy of The Message and read a bit out of 2 Corinthians before I was drawn to our bookshelf. I am a glutton for books, and I found myself living in a Vegas buffet when I married Nick and our libraries combined. I had stashed his copy of the Good and Beautiful Life by James Bryan Smith on the downstairs shelf a couple of weeks ago just in case an urge like the one I had this morning ever struck and I wanted it close at hand (it’s been on my reading list since seminary). After finishing the first chapter and doing some journaling, I was urged to take a walk with Britt girl. We didn’t get far – just two right turns after leaving our driveway – when we came upon our neighbor. Britt introduced me to this particular neighbor months ago. She’s a dog lover and Britt is a charmer with her Rottie features and puppy sensibilities. It’s been a rough season for my neighbor-friend and so we sat down right there on the curb and she gave me the difficult updates. After a while it became apparent that Britt was not handling the muggy heat well and our friend invited us in and set out water for Britt and coffee for me.
I like listening to podcasts. I find myself drawn to those that are filled with women’s voices and stories and that offer me wisdom about building a thriving life. On the plane back from Dallas this weekend I tuned into Tsh Oxenreider discussing how to be productive even during the summer months when kids are home and all semblance of routine has a tendency to go out the window (The Simple Show – Episode 131). I don’t have kids, but I do have a puppy and a husband with a flexible job. Working from home is often a struggle and I find myself overwhelmed and frustrated at my lack of productivity and ability to just nail down a schedule that works. Tsh and her co-host suggested “batching” tasks into “manager” and “maker” and setting aside time each week to focus on each. I decided this would be my magic bullet.
Let me back up. Two weeks ago I came to the realization that I had established and was living in an unhealthy pattern. Monday morning, I would wake up – list in hand – and try to complete all of my tasks that I couldn’t finish the week before. Then, I would have a meltdown. The most recent included a mopey text to Nick saying that I was, “too overwhelmed to call the car place,” and that, “I’d just do it tomorrow.” He, being the attentive and perceptive man that he is, offered to take me to lunch so that we could go over our schedules and tasks and get a plan in place. Everything was going well until the end of the lunch meeting (he even brought a legal pad to take notes on – he’s a champ for doing things that make me happy) when I said something unthoughtful and he didn’t take it well and I ended up more upset and overwhelmed than I was when the lunch began. Fast forward to Wednesday when I was super zen and unconcerned with all that had still yet to be done from my Monday list. I met with my Spiritual Director on Wednesday night and came to the decision that from now on, Monday’s are preparation days and they carry no pressure beyond getting food into the house, clothes cleaned and back into the closet, and a plan in place for the week. (Until I listed that out just now I didn’t realize what a long, productive list that is in itself…oh well, baby steps.)
That same Wednesday evening I shared with my Spiritual Director that I noticed God while listening to the birds singing one morning. I was struck by how different each of their melodies are, and how complex the song was when each melody stacked on top of the others. I spoke of how my mind drifted to the passage of scripture that talks about how God cares for the birds and how much more God cares for us, so…why worry?
Yesterday, Monday, was the first weekday after a trip to Texas full of time with family, friends, and professional connecting. The first weekday after my flight where Tsh (we are not on a first name basis, but she speaks into my life regularly through her writing and podcasting so it feels like we should be) introduced me to batching my manager and maker tasks, I spent the day preparing.
This morning, (Tuesday, for those keeping track) my puppy, Britt, woke me at 5:45…my alarm was set for 6:30 and it didn’t seem worth it to go back to sleep, so I got up.
Sound familiar? We are back in the present and now I will tie all my ramblings together so they make sense.
As I sipped my coffee, and listened, and tried to keep Britt from destroying my friend’s beautiful home (she still somehow managed to steal a potato from the kitchen…), I thought about how thankful I was to be in the right place at just the right time. It has been hard to make friends in my new-ish town of Charlottesville. Many times I’ve longed to be able to have a friend where I could just drop in without having to make plans a week in advance. (My time in Texas last week reminded of the seasons before this one where I was spoiled with friends and mentors everywhere I turned.) This moment this morning was many neighborhood walks, texts, and shared meals in the making, but it felt comfortable and it was able to happen because my plans were disrupted.
I worry a lot. It’s a control thing. It’s been a thing my whole life even though I’ve also heard my whole life that Christians shouldn’t worry. In different seasons it’s changed in its intensity and focus, but the worry is sort of always there.
But days like today, days where I find myself in the right place at just the right time, are helping to convince me that God really does care for me (and my neighbors) at least as much as the birds. I’m also learning that there’s beauty to our songs as they layer on top of one another and God delights in the music we make together.
A passage of scripture that has been on my mind as I consider the birds is Matthew 6:25-34 where The Message translation/interpretation says:
25-26 “If you decide for God, living a life of God-worship, it follows that you don’t fuss about what’s on the table at mealtimes or whether the clothes in your closet are in fashion. There is far more to your life than the food you put in your stomach, more to your outer appearance than the clothes you hang on your body. Look at the birds, free and unfettered, not tied down to a job description, careless in the care of God. And you count far more to him than birds.
27-29 “Has anyone by fussing in front of the mirror ever gotten taller by so much as an inch? All this time and money wasted on fashion—do you think it makes that much difference? Instead of looking at the fashions, walk out into the fields and look at the wildflowers. They never primp or shop, but have you ever seen color and design quite like it? The ten best-dressed men and women in the country look shabby alongside them.
30-33 “If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God’s giving. People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.
34 “Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.”
I invite you to read over this passage a few times this week and notice where God might have you in the right place at just the right time.