Embracing a New Normal

Embracing a New Normal

For those who know me, you know that I’m an organized, planned person. I like to know the details. I want to be as prepared as I can be for whatever is coming. I thrive on routine.

Yet this past year I have struggled to find balance in my life and time to get things done. I  found myself longing for normal.

Let me start at the beginning.

Last March my husband came home from work one day saying that we were going to look at a house with my cousin, who is a realtor. I didn’t know we were in the market for a new home. Yes, our home was quaint. But it worked for us…unless we invited more than a handful of guests over that is. Then it just got crowded cozy.

Even as we looked at houses, I had it in my head that we probably wouldn’t be moving until the end of Summer. It would give me time to prepare mentally for a move. It would give us time to prepare our current home to be a rental property.

By April we had found the perfect home for us. The home we would want to grow our family in. The home that would allow us to entertain more than two guests at a time more regularly and comfortably.

Our closing date for our new home was June 3rd. It really couldn’t have come at a worse time. The Summer is actually the busiest for us. Between kids Vacation Bible School, teen Vacation Bible School and Teen Camp, the Summer is a lot of work. All of it takes a lot of time and energy for me.

So began the whirlwind of craziness.

Packing. Cleaning. Patching holes. Painting. Moving. Unpacking. Settling. I just wanted to feel settled. I wanted normal.

In the midst of all of this, my mother-in-law’s health was drastically failing. She had not been well for over a year, but we had hope that she would eventually recover. But last Summer she only got worse. Unfortunately, my husband’s family lives 6 1/2 hours away and we had a few unplanned trips to visit her. During one of them she passed away.

By this time, the Summer was half over and we were preparing for our Teen Camp, which for us kind of signals the end of Summer, the end of Summer break anyway, as the students go back to school shortly after camp.

Oh how I longed for normal. I longed for routine. Even though I don’t have school aged children, I longed for school to start because the start of school screams normalcy, right?

And then I got sick. I was fine one minute and doubled over in extreme pain the next. A trip to the ER, an unplanned surgery and five days in the hospital carried us into September. It took almost four weeks until I was back to full strength, and all “normalcy” was out the window.

Before I knew it, the holidays were upon us, and let’s face it, schedules are crazy during the holidays. Each year I tell myself, “Once the new year begins, things will settle down.” But really, they don’t. Each year simply gets busier. Just this past week, I spent long days shopping for food and supplies for a teen event, as well as cooking for the event and normal meals for my family. In addition, I brought a meal to a family member that just moved and prepared our home for out-of-town guests. Today is a day full of cleaning as I pull my house into order.

I may be a bit of a slow learner when it comes to this area, but it finally hit me that this crazy life of mine is normal. We’re always going to be finishing one big thing and be moving on to the next. If it’s not moving, or VBS, or camp, or poor health, it’s going to be something else. It’s not going to get easier. Our schedule is going to keep getting crazier.

I have learned so much this past year. I’ve been stretched probably more than I really wanted. Instead of choosing to be burdened by my crazy life, I am slowly learning to embrace my “new normal”. Here are a few things that have helped me:

1. Be Flexible

This is a hard one for me, especially since I love an orderly schedule. Through my 7 years of marriage, I have slowly learned to roll with the punches.  My husband is not a planner. He does a lot that is last minute, even planning a last minute trip because he sees a window of opportunity to take off work.

The events of this last year have really put flexibility to the test for me. I realize that not all of life can be planned, but there’s a lot of good things I’d miss out on if I’m not flexible. It’s better if I accept and embrace whatever comes my way rather than wallow in self-pity of having a disruptive schedule.

2. Know the Important “Stuff” in Your Routine

When life gets crazier than a “normal” crazy routine, it’s important to know what needs to stay as normal as possible and what can get juggled around.

For instance, I have a specific cleaning schedule that I follow that helps me keep an orderly home. Yet, there are some times when this schedule gets shifted (or totally thrown out the window) for certain things. Last December my son was really sick for about a week. Not much cleaning got done, but I spent a lot of time on the couch holding my sweet boy. That’s what he needed the most. Sometimes cleaning gets put by the wayside so that we can say “yes” to something that will create a memory, like going to the zoo or children’s museum.

Then there are a few things that are a must for me no matter what. First, my time with the Lord is a must. I wouldn’t be able to handle the twist and turns of life without it. Second, certain routines with my son need to stay the same – no matter where we are or what we are doing. His mealtimes remain consistent every day. He still needs an afternoon nap, and we always take time to read before naptime and bedtime. For the most part, he goes to bed at a certain too, though.

3.  Ask for Help

Once again, this is a hard one for me. I don’t want to put my burden or responsibilities on someone else. However, there are times when I’ve had to call someone to teach my Sunday school class because I simply didn’t have the time to put together my lesson. And let’s all face it, sometimes it’s easier to get some things done when you don’t have a little one underfoot. It’s okay to ask someone to come help watch your kids. My mom loves her one-on-one time with my Gavin, and my sister is more than willing to spend time with him as well.

4.  Look for the Blessings in the Midst of the Crazy and Chaos

It is so easy to get burdened and weighed down by life. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by all the things that need to get done. Some of the things – okay many of the things – that happened this past year have not been easy. I think I’m still recovering from moving! But moving to a new home as opened a door for new opportunities for my family to minister to others.

My health was not fun, and I got absolutely nothing done, but it gave me much needed time to rest in the Lord. Blessing!

Opening our home to out-of-town guests can create a little extra work, but the blessing of hospitality is such a great reward.

My husband’s last minute weekend getaway gave us some much needed time with just the two of and left us reenergized and recharged for the events coming up.

Having a positive outlook in the midst of crazy helps me keep my sanity. And there is always, always, always something to be thankful for!

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