Listen, can I just be honest here? A small, tiny, raw confession?
I have no plan for April.
Not a theme, not a schedule, not an idea. No staged photos, no new props. No stories of friends nor bible stories of women I can’t wait to get to heaven to meet.
Zero. Nadda. Zilch.
And this isn’t coming from a place of defeat or feeling unappreciated because, Y’all, if we’re waiting for my children to rise up and call me blessed to write, well, then, this space would be blank ALL THE LIVE LONG DAY.
(FYI, when I use all caps, I am not yelling at you.)
(Like I tell the children, You’ll know when I’m yelling at you. This is just to get your attention.)
Where this Nothing is coming from is a feeling of needing to slow down, to get back to Small.
I’m starting to notice this rhythm in my life. When the world around me begins to rev up, like during the holidays or on this manic march towards the summer, my internal response is to resist. In every way.
When schools start sending out notices for end-of-the-year award ceremonies and last-gasp fundraising opportunities and the PTA passes out the order form for next year’s supply list and the words “registration” and “2018-2019” appear on every marque for every school everywhere, I just cringe. My heart rate increases and I start looking for a milkshake to soothe my soul.
Not because any of that is bad or unnecessary or even unwanted. I am 102% down with buying school supplies from the PTA and saving myself the stress and frustration of Walmart on tax-free weekend.
It simply feels like a lot. In a compressed span of time. And I know when I am rushed and busy and concerned about making deadlines with 40 different organizations, I am not focused on Small.
The practice of gratitude requires us to pay attention to the small in our lives.
Packing a lunch, feeling the cool breeze, wiping down countertops, seeing the flowers on the roadside, listening to little friends say, “Let’s pretend,” watching the sunset over the top of the trees.
When we are rushed and stressed and overwhelmed with deadlines, when there are no blank free days on the calendar, when we have to look three weeks ahead to find a space for lunch with friends, we can only see Big.
The big picture telling us to push through these days to get to the end. The big vision of getting kids registered and ready for the next school year. The big memory of that dance recital or tournament or school musical performance. The big of just hang on for dear life and hope rest will come someday.
We see the forest…the Big…but not the trees…the Small.
I need to return to the Discipline of Small.
Maybe you too?
The air we breathe in matters. The air we breathe out matters just as much.
My daughter claims to hate science. Not entirely sure that’s true based on how much she loves to teach anyone and everyone what she’s learning in class. Over and over and over again. When she learned about photosynthesis and the life-cycle of plants, we got to hear almost daily just how important plants are to our lives.
I believe her exact words were, “We would DIE without trees.” (Please read that with all the seven-year-old girl drama you can muster.)
Perhaps that’s an oversimplification of things but she’s not wrong either.
We breathe in the oxygen plants breathe out. Plants breathe in the carbon dioxide we breathe out.
I say we take a lesson from the plants and breathe in some life-giving, body-nourishing, soul-soothing goodness and breathe out the have-to’s, the but-if-we-don’t’s, the FOMO’s (fear of missing out for all the non-millennials.)
Let’s breathe in Small and exhale out Big.
Let’s agree to deeply inhale gratitude in our Small.
Everyday. In every task, every carpool line, every doctor’s office waiting room, every worship service when we struggle to turn off our internal To Do List. Let’s simply decide to do things differently this season.
Breathe in joy watching the sweet Grandpa at the park pushing his granddaughter, wearing a bow bigger than her head, on the swings. Breathe in the tenderness of new life and new beginnings, and getting to love a child wholly and fully.
Breathe out guilt from not volunteering for that Thing you really dread and don’t want to do and aren’t even good at doing to start with. Breathe out feeling you have to and let someone else step into their gifting.
Breathe in the soft, slow morning glow of the sunrise, and instead, breathe out the frustration of that morning commute.
Breathe in bedtime snuggles over the fourth reading of Dr. Suess and breathe out the pile of dishes waiting in the kitchen.
Breathe in praying over the carrots and PB & J sandwich and apple slices as you place them in the lunchbox of the World’s Greatest Daughter and breathe out just getting it done to cross it off the list without giving the person receiving the lunch a single thought.
This is our season, our time, Y’all, to breathe in gratitude, worship, rest and breathe out everything else.
If we want to navigate the craziness of the end of the school year and tax deadlines and band concerts and figuring out summer camps, we have to slow down and begin to embrace gratitude with the Discipline of Small.