Back to Basics: The Great and Overwhelming Dread

I made the mistake of waiting until the proverbial last minute to prepare last year’s taxes…and, in all of the frenzied hours of preparation to get them completed, I promised myself that I would never allow that to happen again.

It did.

Not because I planned it that way, of course, but because life happened. I started out the year on course and determined to keep up with the computer entries and the receipts and all the other details required when you run a small business. I made pretty good progress—for over half the year…and then…well, you know what happened, right?

God decided to move us, so we as we searched for His will about the where and when, we prepared to move. It meant multiple trips for interviews, scouting areas and looking for a home. It meant returning home to DO the actual business, but not staying there long enough to do the resulting paperwork. It meant choosing to take care of the immediate needs instead of the not-so-pressing-at-the-time-ones. In truth, there wasn’t any other option during the last few months of the year.

The first months of the new year were about making the move a reality and trying to ignore the looming spectre of the need to prep for taxes amidst the chaos…without knowing exactly what all would be required due to all of our “special circumstances” of the previous year. Now, I’m not normally a panicky person. I don’t generally stress about things—I just go do them. That didn’t happen with this.

Once again, it was down to the wire, the panicked inputting of data and the creating of charts and spreadsheets and the intense prayers to find all I needed somewhere in the chaos of the temporary folding table set up in my office space with stacks that seemed to grow overnight (nightly!) and waking up in the night with the fevered feeling of forgetting something really important. It wasn’t good. I wasn’t good. Oh, I was diligent, but I wasn’t the least bit good— mainly because I am just a touch OCD about being detailed and I show up and make my accountant laugh every year about the level of detail it takes to make me comfortable before I even get to her office! (Yes! I do this to myself!)

Finally, it was as done as I could make it and I packed my bags with a change of clothes and more paperwork than I hoped I would ever need (because you really can’t just run home to Georgia if you forget things in Mississippi!) and I headed west to see my accountant. I arrived knowing I had done all I could and that it still wasn’t to the level of detail that I normally prepared. I just prayed and hoped for the best.

And you know what? It was fine. In fact, it was better than fine. I had a great time with my accountant (I love her!) and the taxes got filed and all of the “special circumstances” and the “unknowns” I had built up in my head were just that: all in my head. God had it in control all the time. Ha! Imagine that.

Now what does all this have to do with you? Perhaps, not a thing…but maybe, just maybe, there’s something in your life that brings that same “great and overwhelming dread” into your life, too. Maybe it is about something you can actually do something about. Maybe it isn’t. Whatever it is, regardless of whether it is tax prep or relationship issues, finances or medical matters, I’m here to tell you that God has your situation all under control, too.

Yes, you should do your best to prepare. Yes, you should be diligent in doing all within your power to take care of it, but once you’ve done that…you need to rest in Him. Regardless of the subject matter or the outcome, He is in charge…and He has a plan…and once again, it is for your good—even if it comes packaged in a way that you don’t really like. Apparently, that was a lesson I needed to have repeated for me.

How about you? Are you placing unreasonable expectations on yourself as you try to meet some self-imposed or imagined standard? Are you taking time to take care of the things that really need to be taken care of or are you consumed by the tyranny of urgent requests from others? What can you do—today!—to give yourself a break and focus on the beautiful life around you right now?

My husband’s life verse comes to mind and I hope you’ll find in it the same comfort that we do:

“For God did not give us a spirit of fear, but of power and love and a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7

(I just wish I had put that sound mind part into practice a bit earlier!)

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Are you a God-kept wonder?

When each earthly prop gives under,

And life seems a restless sea,

Are you then a God-kept wonder,

Satisfied and calm and free?       ~from Streams in the Desert

 

I’ve been taking my own determination to make this a year—or a life!—of returning to the basics very seriously. I’ve been making conscious decisions to stay in the moment and savor the small things. Jim Elliot’s quote, “Wherever you are, be all there!” resonates with me constantly and has become my own daily personal goal as I settle into this new life here in Georgia.

I’ve been more intentional about pursuing the heart of God and being cognizant of His Presence in all the moments that make up the life-time. Returning to the consistent reading of Psalms and Proverbs has sharpened my appetite for praise and my desire to be wiser in using the time God chooses to give to me. Additionally, I’ve also been re-reading Streams in the Desert by Mrs. Charles E. Cowman—the very first devotional book I used when I first moved to Georgia after grad school over 24 years ago.

I love this little book with its collection of thoughts and daily challenges written in words that sound more than a bit archaic in tone and structure and attitude when compared to our more modern way of talking and our cultural mandates of situational ethics and personal advancement whatever the cost. The small poetry snippet above is the antithesis of such “modern” thinking and reminds me that regardless of what I face throughout the day—or year—or life!—I AM a God-kept wonder when I resist the urges to ‘have it all my way’ or just have it all now and focus on resting in Him regardless of situation, instead.

Practically, I’ve been keeping busy with tax-prep made more challenging this year by having to locate items in new places and search through paperwork “organized” in bags that make me wonder where my brain was when I put them there. We’ve been blessed with an abundance of guests who have honored our home and brought joy to our spirits with their familiar faces in this new place. There has been much to do and I’ve been pleased as punch to do it because I am so aware that this is where God has placed us…on purpose…for HIS purpose.

While I wait for some of that purpose to become more evident, I’m enjoying the conversations of the hoot owls as I sit on my back porch in the early (really early!) mornings and I’ve been savoring the fresh tomatoes that the produce man at the local farmer’s market located somewhere that already have the flavor of late summer here in the early spring.  I’m growing accustomed to living on Eastern Time instead of Central Standard and I’ve been waging a battle to keep my porch bird-nest free. (That is one determined little bird!)  I’ve been raking pine straw and picking up sticks and being amazed all over again at the amount of pollen in a Southern spring—all the while reveling in the bloom of forsythia, daffodils, tulip trees and dogwood right here in my own little yard.  I’ve been changing sheets and readying guest rooms for the family that was here last week and those who will arrive this weekend—including the cousin who (just one year ago!) fell 3 stories on a job site and wasn’t supposed to survive, but has become one of those God-kept wonders and is planning a trip to Disney shortly!

I haven’t written much lately because I’ve been too busy learning…and you have to learn before you can share. I hope and pray that you are busy learning, too; that your lessons are easy ones and, if not, that you will find yourself being a God-kept wonder where you are.  In the meantime, I hope you’re loving God with all your heart and savoring the glories of the day.

Grace & Peace!