Recently I’ve seen a new quote popping up everywhere: “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s learning how to dance in the rain.” After all the growing pains of last year, I now can relate to the concept that life shouldn’t be broken into times of struggle and difficulty versus times of happiness and peace. There is a mixture of both in our lives. True peace means that, even when there is difficulty and conflict in your life, you can still find the joy.
Life has been very busy the past couple months. I LOVE the fall and all the fun activities it brings, but our full calendar has meant less time for reflection and blogging. However, this season has also provided many opportunities to practice what I’ve learned in terms of being in the moment, accepting my feelings, and trusting Christ.
November ushered in a lot of wonderful family activities and events – Oktoberfest, Sienna’s First Holy Communion, and our tenth wedding anniversary. However, the middle of the month brought a lot of stress. I had three sources of external conflict to deal with and felt on the brink of tears several times due to these situations. While I want to embrace my emotions and was grateful to feel them, in these particular circumstances, it was necessary for me to suppress the tears as I was a leader or authority figure in each case. I wanted to demonstrate my ability to handle the conflict in a professional and mature way.
Throughout this challenging time, I prayed constantly for strength. I prayed for God to guide my words and help me to be a loving servant to the people around me. I let go of trying to control the outcome of each situation, and instead prayed that God would make everything work out for the best. I was blessed by very positive outcomes in each situation and learned that being a leader doesn’t mean controlling and having “it all figured out”. Being willing to deal with conflict in a loving way, that’s the type of leader I hope to be.
Thanksgiving week – how I was looking forward to a break and enjoying time with my family! Sienna’s school was closed the entire week so I worked from home Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. My sore throat started Monday and turned into a pretty bad cold by Tuesday evening. Isn’t it funny how your body’s defenses are up when you have to get work done and then, (wham!) you get sick as soon as you relax?
Our Thanksgiving tradition, when it’s just the four of us, is to watch the parade, play some football in the backyard, watch a bunch of football, while cooking the big feast and then end the night by watching “Home Alone” with our pumpkin pie. This year it was hot – in the high 80s – on Thanksgiving Day. I was sick and coughing a bunch, while cooking the entire meal myself, in a hot kitchen. Thankfully, since I was home sick the day before, I’d gotten all the chopping and prep done for the many dishes I was preparing. Unfortunately, I burned my finger on the oven midway through prepping our meal. Ugh.
I’ve had many Thanksgiving meal mishaps over the years. Typically my grand visions of how perfect the day was going to be would come crashing down when these issues occurred. This year, with my new attitude of staying in the moment and allowing for the frustrations and challenges of life to come and go, I didn’t spend any time lamenting that the day didn’t turn out the way I expected. Instead, I took deep breaths. I prayed for peace and calm in my words and deeds toward my family.
When we sat down to eat and grasped hands to say the Lord’s Prayer, a peace came over me as I realized all the effort was worth it. I looked around at Sienna, Mateo, and Dennis with a feeling of gratitude and joy. Being the mom, making the sacrifice to cook this huge meal for my husband and kids while feeling so sick, so that we could give thanks to our gracious Lord for all his blessings – it felt right.
Letting go of how things “should” be and embracing what is happening – it’s one of the things I’m most thankful for this year. It’s one simple way of acknowledging that God is taking care of everything and keeping us in his loving embrace.
That, and pumpkin pie with real whipped cream. I’m really thankful for that annual indulgence too!