5 Things I’m Learning in a Season of Monotony

This is what I have observed to be good: that it is appropriate for a person to eat, to drink and to find satisfaction in their toilsome labor under the sun during the few days of life God has given them—for this is their lot. -Ecclesiastes 5:18

The monotony of the days have been taking their toll lately and I’ve found myself increasingly frustrated and irritable. Like painting with those messy Crayola watercolor paints. One color runs into the next in the plastic, oblong case, and, in no time, there’s a muddied mess. This can happen when we don’t find satisfaction in the day to day work God has given us. The resentments build, anger and frustrations arise, covering up and muddying the beautiful fruits underneath that He’s trying to sprout in us. If we aren’t careful and paying attention, these can also conceal the many blessings He has given us. Just like the muddied watercolors, underneath each puddle are vivid colors, we just have to clear away the muddy mess to see them. God taught me five things recently about finding color in my life in a season of monotony:

1. See the good

While in Ecclesiastes, He spoke: find satisfaction in work. This doesn’t mean I’m supposed to turn work into an idol. What He meant by this was to find enjoyment in the work that I have been given during this season of life, rather than grumble my way through it. On my YouVersion Bible app, another translation stated find enjoyment in his toil and when I clicked on the word enjoyment, it further stated or make his soul see good. One way we can see good, is by counting our blessings daily. And, instead of seeing our daily tasks as just tasks, we can think about what good will come from accomplishing them, whether in the short-term or long-term. This brings us the second thing I learned about how to see good.

2. Start the day with “I get to”

On Instagram, Dr. Caroline Leaf posted about beginning each day with an “I get to” mentality, rather than “I have to”. I get to wake up and teach my girls at home, I get to wash dishes for my family, I get to prepare and cook for my husband and our daughters. Not everyone gets to do these. When we change our perspective and reframe our thoughts from “I have to”, to “I get to”, we can see the colors for what they are-bold and beautiful blessings that can wash away the dark and dreary.

3. Get creative and cultivate more joy

As far as enjoyment goes, when I asked God how to find satisfaction in my work, this popped into my mind: get creative. Creativity calms me and brings me joy. We can use our creativity by mixing up those mundane tasks and making them fun. How? Here are some ideas that occurred to me:

Tired of…

  1. Making dinner? Why not involve the family and have a dinner dance party. Grab a cooking utensil as your microphone, crank the tunes, and break out your best moves in between meal prep and cooking tasks. And if you live alone? Who says you can’t cut a rug to your favorite jams too?
  2. Homeschooling? Add some simple arts and crafts projects to your week or interrupt a day here or there with impromptu nature walks, scavenger hunts and photography challenges.
  3. Cleaning? Have at it with cleaning karaoke-80’s style. Choose your favorite hits and clean through two songs, karaoke through one, clean through two, karaoke through one and so on-or if the whole family is cleaning, the songs can be divided up and rotated through. If it’s not your song, clean. When your song comes on, belt out your number.
  4. Meal prep? Why not create some new meals? And if you aren’t super confident in the kitchen, start small. Alter recipes by adding new ingredients or experiment with new spices.

Yes, some of these may sound silly, but why not? Life is supposed to be enjoyed.

4. Embrace the mundane with a cheerful heart and glorify Him

Not only do I need to worship God in the wilderness, like He’s been showing me lately, but by embracing this season of monotony and doing the work He’s set before me with a cheerful heart, trusting Him with the season and tasks He’s given me, and doing it for Him, I’m glorifying Him in the process. This is a form of worship.

5. Be eager to work for the Lord

As I was reading in the Word tonight in Exodus, the words eager to help in the work the Lord had given stood out so I circled them. And on the next page, eager to get to work leapt off the page. He was telling me that I need to be eager to do the work He has given me. According to macmillandictionary.com, eager is defined as: very enthusiastic about doing something…So, in other words, I need to get intensely excited about working for the Lord. He chose this work for me and rather than just seeing these as dull repetitive duties to be completed, I need to see them as the Lord’s work and be be eager to do His work.

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. -Colossians 3:23-24

Acceptance for the Win

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God can bring peace to your past, purpose to your present and hope to your future. -John 14:27

During this crazy, isolating pandemic, I needed a way to serve and God put it on my heart to share my story. Tired of posting snippets of my life on social media, where lives are made to look picture perfect, I took a break and God spoke. So, here I am! And I’m going to be real here, y’all. I want to show the messy, the imperfect, and the struggle in the journey. My journey has never been a straight line or even just a little crooked. It’s been a full on three steps forward, two steps back–again and again, twirls and zigzags, abrupt stops and detours, a cliff drop here and there where I’m hanging by a thread, a long crawl back up, and yet another stumble. I’ve battled abandonment issues, food addiction, chronic illness, postpartum depression and more. I often wonder why I was put on this Earth to begin with, because compared to the amount of suffering I’ve endured, I’ve experienced much less joy in my life. Maybe this blog is why. Maybe it’s not. I don’t know, but I have to believe that He has a purpose for my suffering. Maybe that purpose is telling my story to let others know they are not alone or maybe it’s to bring hope to those who are currently enduring hardships and need some light shed in their lives. Right now, I’m needing some light too. I’ll be honest. Today, I don’t have a lot of hope myself, but perhaps, as I write, I’ll find some in this blog as well, because this last week-heck this last year—or three, have been really, really rough.

A couple of weeks ago, the waves of life came crashing down yet again, just when we were beginning to get settled into our cozy little cabin in Alaska. This cabin, we found out, had toxic mold, so we had to move a second time. Not only that though, less than a week moved in and we have run into problem after problem with this newest abode. I noticed I was becoming REALLY angry-like blood boiling angry, and I know there is always something more behind the anger so I started digging around and realized that I’m struggling with acceptance. I have been in a full blown boxing match fighting with reality because I don’t like the temporary living situation we are currently in and since I haven’t been able to accept it, it’s causing me more suffering and more frustration. I don’t know why our lives have been full of trials-so many, many trials. But as I write this, I can see how exhausting and futile it has been to fight against the things I cannot change, so I must accept our current circumstances as they are for the moment. This doesn’t mean I have to like them or approve of them or that these circumstances are what I’m choosing, but they are what they are for right now. The more I resist, the more I will suffer, so I will choose the less painful road this time. I will be thankful for the things I do have and look for the lesson, while continuing to hope in the One who has carried me this far.

Tonight, as I wrestled with anger and acceptance, I remembered a passage from the A.A. Big Book that had helped me in the past. I pray that this will help you too:

“And acceptance is the answer to all my problems today. When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing or situation-some fact of my life-unacceptable to me. I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment. Nothing, absolutely nothing, happens in God’s world by mistake…unless I accept life completely on life’s terms, I cannot be happy. I need to concentrate not so much on what needs to be changed in the world as on what needs to be changed in me and my attitudes.” Alcoholics Anonymous (Big Book), 4th Edition P. 417

A Missing Piece

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” -Jeremiah 29:11

I never could have imagined how my life would turn out. Does anyone ever, really though? When we got married, my husband and I held onto this picturesque vision of raising a family in a rustic farmhouse on 10 acres. Thoughts of my husband penning his book in our study, peering out the upstairs window while our sweet girls ran barefoot freely, and I hung the laundry outside on our homestead, swirled in my mind often. It was THE dream for our family. Just as easily as a dream is formed though, it can be shattered. Life is like that. Loved ones die, sickness is battled, houses are burned down, mistakes are made and jobs are lost. And although we can’t rely on our dreams, we can rely on the One who is our refuge and strength-the One who is always there for us-the One who allows us to soar like eagles-the One who is rock solid and immovable.

Yet, life is not rock solid. It’s fluid and it’s forever changing. We hope and plan and dream, but our real hope lies in Jesus, because at some point, life may sideswipe us and what we thought we wanted, may never have really been the important stuff at all-the stuff He wanted us to have or who He wanted us to be. See, in the end, His purpose will always prevail and we can either ride the waves and anchor ourselves to Him or we can swim against the current and nearly drown. The beauty of it is that the choice is ours. He’s left that part up to us and when we choose Him, that’s where the real joy is.

I made my choice. I chose Jesus-even in the hard stuff, even when I sat in the doctor’s office four years ago and heard the words “you have two weeks to get out”. As difficult as that moment was, He was my anchor. And He got us through it all as we weathered the storm. With just fourteen days to leave everything behind and find a new place to live, this storm raged on. Our current home was infested with toxic mold and our family was bleeding internally. Not only were we bleeding internally though, a whole host of other symptoms gripped us. I would have moments that would come and go, where I felt as though my body was paralyzed and I couldn’t move my mouth to even talk. The mold had wreaked havoc on our guts too, and had caused everyone in our household to suddenly become sensitive to numerous foods. Mold infiltrated our lives. The mold spores, made up of toxic mycotoxins, were in every nook and cranny, on every surface, in every fiber of our belongings. 

Nearly all of our “stuff” was destroyed. When we temporarily left, before fully walking away, we attempted to go back inside our home to get a few sentimental items, such as my engagement ring, but this proved to be a terrible idea. None of us could go back in without immediately experiencing symptoms. And if we wanted a real shot at healing, the “stuff” had to stay. The blessing was in there though. 

See, His hand was in all of this, even in the shocking news we got. Because, aside from our lives being turned upside down, the blessing was an answer to prayer. After searching for years for answers into my chronic illness, we finally had a huge missing piece of the puzzle: toxic mold. And His timing was impeccable, as usual. Had I known earlier, I don’t know that I would have been prepared to handle what was to follow, for the crazy journey that we were about to embark on, was unfathomable to me. It is a ride I wouldn’t have been prepared for prior. This journey was not what I would have chosen for my life or my family, but it’s the journey we are on. And only He knows why and for what purpose.

He knows. That is the key. Toxic mold cost me my home, my career, my dreams, the “stuff” I had accumulated over the years, and the life I once knew and thought I loved. It also challenged every idea I had about how I was “supposed to” raise our family. Yet through it all, He was moving the pieces into just the right places, pruning me along the way and teaching me that I can trust Him in the darkest of times. Before mold, I thought I knew what I wanted and how to run my life, however, I didn’t. He taught me what was truly important-that “stuff” is just that and that our real treasure is in Heaven. He taught me to slow down and got me out of the rat race I was living, and He taught me to raise our children the way He wants us to raise them.

It’s easy to think we know best, to think we know what we want in life, but in all honesty, do we? He knows though, and we can trust that. We can trust that if our dreams are taken out to sea, that He’ll plant new ones in our hearts-dreams far better than what we can imagine, dreams that will bring true joy because they were what were meant for us all along. Anchor yourself to Him and watch Him work.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” -Isaiah 55:8