A New Normal

Summer? Where did it go? 

The answer seems to emerge through the same pattern each year. As the sizzling days of the season arrive with pool openings Memorial Day weekend, the extended school break stretches before us with not a care in the world. But by the end of June, the “Back to School” ads start rolling in as the Fourth of July barbecues heat up. Before we know it, school buses arrive and kids are carted off – to the glee of many exasperated parents. Others, not tied to the academic calendar, savor each sunshine-lengthened day before the brisk fall nights set in. 

Whatever your life stage, this may be a good moment to pause – and for some, to press reset. For many of us it’s time to return to familiar routines, but for others going through life transitions it may be an opportunity to create new ones. That’s me. I need a new routine – a new normal.

You see I’m the kind of person who likes schedules and structure. So when the lazy days of summer arrive at my doorstep with its many distractions, I lose my rhythm – resulting in a lack of productivity and lots of wasted time. While I have accepted and even embraced the reality that lingering on my cozy porch over a devotion and hot cup of coffee each morning is good for my soul, the rest of the day tends to evaporate. As I attempt to focus now, the sun beams in through my window and an occasional hummingbird whizzes by to greet me. My mind is all over the place. Stacks of writing projects overwhelm me. My voicemail, email, and life are at capacity. Everything is full. Tempting thoughts of retreating to my peaceful porch continue to simmer.

But I have learned the hard way that ignoring, avoiding, or even escaping for a few days doesn’t solve anything. I need to reengage and get back on track to discover my new normal. As my devotion today so clearly and simply stated, I need to “Do the next thing” – not overanalyze or overorganize. I need to just start with what is right in front of me and keep working at it day after day – taking small intentional steps forward until a new routine emerges. In his book The Will of God as a Way of Life, author Jerry Sittser describes how ordinary life is the key to finding joy. “For some strange reason God must value routine because much of life consists of little more. Our lives are filled with the mundane, the forgettable, and the boring,” Sittser explains. But it is in the doing of these things – the dishes, errands, grocery shopping, carpools – that we grow. “Routine builds habit, whether good or bad,” Sittser says. “Routine engenders fortitude in the face of difficulty, gratitude to God for the ordinary blessings of life, love for people whom we are serving, joy in doing a job well.” 

So here’s to finding a new normal – one plate, pile, and project at a time!

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6 Responses

  1. Thank you for this inspiration which was much needed this morning! I love the thought that God must value routine. This motivates me to do the next right thing and tackle that to do list!
    • I'm so glad you received my story in God's perfect timing. I think Sittser nailed it when he discussed the daily routines of life and how much time is spent doing this type of work. It motivates me as well to embrace my new normal to start moving forward – one step and one pile at a time. Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment, Susan. ~Julie
  2. You did it again, dear. You just expressed how I am feeling and I bet if we could contact others, they would feel the same way. We have all these tasks in front of us and yet we procrastinate (some more than others!). I liked the info you gleaned from the author Sittser about our lives being full of mundane tasks and how God must have fashioned them like that. I know I like having a routine: prayer, writing, fitness, errands, etc. Then I allow myself to enjoy some time in the evening, usually with the Mash CD's. You hit it right on the head how we think we can get away, distract ourselves, etc., but the piles of work are always there and it is up to us to get to them. I am trying to do that now and finally finish off tentative stories before starting new ones. I would like to sit down with someone and actually get comfortable with The Facebook so I could interact as I promised my readers before. Your writing is awesome, like you.
    • Thanks, Mama! Just keep plugging away at "The Facebook" (as you like to call it), and it will become a part of your new routine. I must be just like my mother since I like routine too:) So now that summer is almost over, it's time to get back on track. I'll tackle the piles. You tackle The Facebook. Love you! ~Julie

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