Blog | Lindsey Smallwood

Gratitude

Life: the Sublime & the Mundane

Lindsey Smallwood

The day I got married was my all-time favorite day.

Sure, I went a little nuts with the hot glue gun in the weeks leading up to the big event, making over-the-top bird cage centerpieces. And yes, there were tears I vowed I'd never cry about things like booking the band and the catering menu. But by the time the actual day dawned everything was perfect.

I mean not perfect.

My dress got stuck on the back row pew and I almost got slingshotted backward walking down the aisle. And there were pictures we forgot to take and people I didn't get to talk to. But still, there was magic in the air, as everyone we loved gathered in one place to sing and dance and eat cake.

My heart has never been so full, before or since. Thinking about our final dance, spinning around and singing along to Journey's Don't Stop Believing never fails to bring a smile to my lips.

Compare that to yesterday. My husband is sick, which is not his specialty. He's grumpy and tired and struggling to get life done with a cough that won't quit. I'm in the final weeks of pregnancy and am having trouble sleeping, so the days are long and exhausting. My toddlers are feisty balls of energy that leave a mess in any space they've occupied for more than two minutes, so everything in my life is dirty or out of place.

By bedtime last night, not only did our tiny apartment look like a tornado had blown through, there'd been yelling and harsh words and even a slammed door.

Not exactly magical.

But that’s life – the sublime and the mundane, the good and the bad, our best days and our worst. If we’re living as people who really believe God works all things together for our good, to make us more like Jesus, then we should expect both kinds of days.

The author of Ecclesiastes knew this. In many ways his book is a warning that life’s highs and lows can be deceptive. Good times create the false expectation that life will always be good. It won’t.

Bad times create the illusion that life has no meaning, no purpose, no justice. Not true. 

What is true is that life is both/and. God designed it that way, as we read in Ecclesiastes 7:14 (The Message):

On a good day, enjoy yourself;
On a bad day, examine your conscience.
God arranges for both kinds of days
So that we won’t take anything for granted.

Both kinds of days are in the plans, friends. So don’t be surprised when life is terrible – or wonderful. That’s how God arranged it.

There’s a warning implied here and it’s this: Don’t spend your good days waiting for the other shoe to drop. Take time to enjoy your life. Treasure those moments when everything is working, when the music is playing, when it seems like love is everywhere you look.

We're in the middle of some big life changes. If I’m not careful, I end up filling good days of time with friends and meaningful work and joy in watching my kids play with worries about the future and silent brainstorming about logistical challenges. Instead I’m trying to remember this advice from the author of Ecclesiastes to enjoy life, savoring the good days and not filling them with fears about the future.

And on the days when doors get slammed and things get yelled that I’d rather not repeat here in cyber-space, I’m taking time to tune in, to listen to the Holy Spirit, to examine my heart and ask myself where I need Jesus in the middle of it all.

God arranges for both kinds of days so that we don’t take anything for granted.

I’m learning to live that truth.

 

This post originally appeared at Middle Places

Shalom on the Line

#wholemamaLindsey Smallwood

Hey hey to you all!

This summer I am joining in with some writing friends to participate in #wholemama, a season of being a community who remembers what matters. (Hint: It's not finishing my summer bucket list or losing a jean size.) There are hashtags and love bombs and Fuzes - oh my. What looks to be my favorite part is we plan to write in response to a weekly prompt and share our thoughts with each other and all of you.

In an attempt to bring more joy into my week, I've decided to write my weekly #wholemama posts as poetry. Not elegant little ditties like Luci Shaw or Emily Dickinson. I'm talking about straight up Dr. Suess-style stuff - except without all the wockets and zazzles. Singsong rhyming poetry was the first thing I loved to write as a kid, it was my drug of choice in the hormone filled junior high years and it's still a simple pleasure in which I find delight. But I rarely make time for it. 

Until now.

For the next eight weeks...

I'm setting aside Tuesdays for writing in verse. 
Hoping to be clever, truthful and terse. 
Here's hoping for something uplifting to you
Now onto the prompt without further ado...

See what I did there ;)

This week's topic - Yearning for wholeness, peace & Shalom. 

Last weekend we went to go hiking
and sleep in a tent by the shore.
Though we left for just 24 hours,
we came home with laundry galore.

Dirty Pack 'n Play sheets and blankets,
campfire smoke on our shirts,
the towels we used as a doormat,
bloody shorts from where Bobby got hurt.

Back at home it turned into a mountain,
peaking as tall as my thighs.
It grew even more when I realized
there were clothes in the hamper, besides.

We live in a tiny apartment,
with a washer hidden by a door.
No dryers allowed in our unit,
just a small drying rack on the floor. 

As I stared at my laundry volcano
erupting out into the room,
I cursed our dorm-style living,
awash in self-pity and gloom.

"Someday I will live in a house,"
I said in my downhearted funk.
"With a beautiful washer and dryer - 
a whole room to fold all this junk."

Sleep deprived from our trip in the wild
and longing to head off to bed, 
instead I began to fill the machine
as the small voice inside of me said: 

"It's a grace gift, your tiny apartment,
where you live with your husband and sons.
It's a grace gift, this pile of laundry, 
evidence of adventure and fun.

It's a grace gift to have all the water
you will need to finish your chores.
It's a grace gift, this moment of quiet,
as you pick your things up off the floor."

As I stood in front of my washer,
I remembered anew and again - 
There is a peace that comes in letting go
of "I wants" and "Someday whens".

Instead - sweet joy in taking time to see
the riches already mine.
As I hung our camping laundry
I found Shalom - there on the line.


Friends, where are you finding Shalom - peace - wholeness these days? I'd love to hear about it in the comments below. 

Oh, and in case you missed it, the rhyming verse fun started last week with my #wholemama rap - check it out here