Wednesday, October 7, 2015

When Doing the Next Thing is the Way Forward

My niece and nephew, who are 8 and 11, are spending the night at my house. They arrive bag and baggage {from down the street} and I envision a night full of popcorn, games and laughs.

But that grand plan goes awry quickly when I barely manage to keep the toilet from overflowing, start the laundry from the near-disaster in the bathroom, hand out snacks {no one wants popcorn}, and settle two disputes. 

And with that, their bedtime arrives. 

I head back upstairs to find my niece laying on the floor with a blanket over her head and my nephew sitting on the side of her bed, serenely clipping his toenails.

“I can’t sleep in that bed now that his toenails are in it,” she informs me from the floor. 

I roll my eyes {but really, I can’t blame her} and tell her I’ll get the vacuum. Arguments ensue on who is sleeping where.



As I try to maneuver the vacuum around her on the floor {since she doesn’t budge}, I accidentally hit the end table where the vintage medicine cabinet sits and it topples over and sends everything flying across the room with a crash.

They both stare at me. A glass rolls under the bed. Finally, it’s quiet. 

I realize what I’ve long suspected to be true. 

Chaos doesn’t necessarily obliterate the way forward. What I should do seems pretty obvious. Not a lot of decisions or questions here.
Fix what’s broken. Moderate the quarrels. Clean up the mess. 

Could it be that simple for the bigger things we wrestle with in our lives? 

I often wonder what God’s plan is for my life. As if there’s just one BIG PLAN. 



But maybe the quest to discover God’s plan is less of a search and more of a movement forward. 

Maybe all the hand-wringing about what to do and sweating it out and worrying isn't all that necessary. 

Maybe it’s not really that much of a mystery. 
Take another step. Do the next thing. Trust God for the rest.
I get attached to the mindset that joy waits for me just over the next horizon. I am sure that divine happiness would be mine if I’d only just get there

{Although I’m not so sure where there might be.} 

I know I would be content if only I could billow that banner over my life that says I’ve arrived. 

{You know the banner — yours may be different from mine, but it might say: marriage, motherhood, accomplished career, grandchildren, retirement.}

I imagine the view just over the next hilltop will be everything I'm looking for so I can relax and enjoy the ride.



Maybe my never-ending quest to know what I should do makes God raise his eyebrows. 

When he’s already given me so much, maybe it’s a little ungrateful to keep asking, what’s next for me? 

What if this — all I have now in my life —  is right where I should be? This is the plan.

The view I have when I look up from the climb of my ordinary days looks quite pretty. It's filled with all the things I love and cherish, if I just lift up my head, open my eyes, and see what's in front of me.



As I stood at the stove flipping chocolate chip pancakes the next morning, Devon protested that her brother was sitting in her chair at the breakfast counter. Another sibling spat broke out. 

When I promised the compromiser the first pancake, they both said they didn’t care. Finally with tears {Devon’s} and pleading {mine}, Nate finally gave in and moved. 

The overflowing toilet, tabletops crashing, fighting before pancakes — they’re all part of the plan for making memories. For them and for me.

After they went home, I sat down at my desk and saw this note stuck on top of my computer from Devon. 



Hi! I love you. Have a nice time blogging! 

I think I’ll just do the next thing. 

Open my laptop and write this week’s blog post.



I'm linking up with my friends at Holley Gerth's place at Coffee for your Heart. If you click the image, there are more posts to read from my blogging friends!



27 comments:

  1. Do the next thing. And look up to enjoy the here and now! Powerful. Thank you. Susan. Neighbor at Holley's today

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    1. Susan,
      Always happy to be your neighbor! Thanks so much for dropping by to visit and leaving your sweet words behind!

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  2. YOU DID IT!! (wink wink!) I knew that divine inspiration would strike!! And it is divine indeed because this was a big reinforcement for me of a conversation I had last week with my best friend-- she was talking about teaching her son algebra and doing the steps in order and I was honing in on those thoughts for my life... just do the next logical step-- don't try and skip over to the answer at the end. Even if it's just looking up and praising GOD for what we already have isn't that enough? You have made me think so much!! Maybe this is IT....and maybe we do weary God with all the questions. Your post was an answered prayer from this morning I'm sure of it. ♥♥♥

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    1. Heather,
      Yes WE did it! And yes, I think THIS (whatever, wherever that is for both of us) IS it! Maybe I overthink things (no doubt there) and maybe it's not so complicated and maybe I just need to leave it all in God's very capable hands . . . WHILE I'm enjoying the walk through my days. LOVE commiserating and brainstorming with you!

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    2. ♥ And with you as well my friend! ♥

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  3. Well, first, the important question. Did the vintage medicine cabinet survive? Would love to see it someday since I'm a big fan.

    And after a lifetime of planning and calendars and plotting the days ahead, I truly am living in the moment these days and simply doing the next thing. So much has happened in such a short span of time, it's like there's no choice.

    'Cause I just don't know what's going to happen next. And based on recent track records, it might not be all that good.

    But He knows. And that really lets me rest in Him. And simply do the next thing.

    Wow. This was like a mini-therapy session. You're good! And I always love being here.

    ;-}

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    1. Linda,
      Yes! The little cabinet survived! I will indeed share a photo! I feel like we get older and wiser as we realize that our plans really do fall under the ultimate coordinator of our lives, God, and we can't imagine what's next. But our hope is that he is good and no matter what happens, we'll find our peace and joy and strength in that truth.

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  4. As a fellow auntie, I can relate, Valerie! I l love this :) Do the next thing...keep moving forward....run your race at HIS pace...these have all been my themes lately too. Good to see I'm not alone in this quest! Thanks for the reminder to simply do the next thing. Blessings!

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    1. Ashley,
      We fellow-aunties need to stick together! So glad we also share our recent nuggets gathered from our daily lives to run our races with him! Thanks for stopping by!

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  5. Love your adventures with the kiddos!

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    1. Oh Brittany, they are always an adventure and never deliver a dull moment!

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  6. I love this account of your niece's and nephew's sleepover and how you relate it to our lives, Valerie. Things we want to happen don't always happen, but as you say, maybe just being where we are now is the plan. I find such encouragement in this and "Take another step. Do the next thing. Trust God for the rest." Thank you! Blessings and hugs!

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    1. Thanks Trudy! I think sometimes it might be simpler than it seems, isn't it? We are where we are for this moment in time and it just might be divinely purposed!

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  7. I've been struggling with discontentment lately and I'm not really sure where it's coming from. Your words remind me to stay in the moment and take the next step. Being "there" isn't going to make me any happier than being here.

    I'm sure your nephew and niece love they have a cool aunt to hang out with!

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    1. Alecia,
      I'm not sure how cool they think I am :) but I do love being with them! I'm with you -- being somewhere else (even if we don't know where that is!) somehow seems like it's the answer to everything we're feeling, especially if it's discontented feelings or weariness with what we're doing. It's hard sometimes staying where we are!

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  8. Valerie- love love this! so true and what I wrestle with a lot!! -feeling like I am missing the "big plan" in just managing the chaos and little things of each day.-and I feel God saying the very same thing- to be ok if this is the plan and to keep pressing forward- And it seems this is the goal to be in forward motion toward more of him whether that is through spilled cereal all over a freshly mopped floor or something that seems more important like leading a bible study- My value and worth has not changed regardless the job I am assigned. And it has helped bring clarity to do the next thing- the thing right in front of me. I have had many nights like the one you describe- Funny how it always happens when I have a really fun plan- and then it all goes south- never on the nights when I am unprepared or have low expectations!! Thanks for all these beautiful and wise thoughts xoxo

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    1. Susie,
      My occasional chaos can't compare with a mom's daily chaos, I'm sure! I think that's the challenge isn't it, to see that our daily chores are purposed and do matter to God, if that's what's in front of us? But somehow my great expectations sometimes fall flat and when I look back later, they're more amusing (at that later date!) no matter how they turn out!

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  9. Sounds like so many days at my house. It's easy to get discouraged in the day-to-day, but I love you put it - "just do the next thing" and see how God will work through whatever's there in our life that day.

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    1. Kathryn,
      Sometimes it's the day to day that is the most discouraging, isn't it, with our routines and to-do lists? But you're right -- it's just another opportunity to see how God will work through these days! Thanks for sharing your words of encouragement!

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  10. I am not laughing at your chaos. Nope, not at all. :) glad you all survived!
    This post had me nodding along. Yes, I am always waiting for the next big thing and who knows what all I am missing along the way. So this is me sighing in relief that I can just be....

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    1. Sarah,
      I'm sure your chaos is all good with your sweet girls!:)

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  11. Some days are hectic! Glad you made it through... next move, forward
    Blessings to you

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    1. Ifeoma,
      Yes! Love that -- next move, forward! Thanks for being here!

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  12. I love this Valerie. I was just having a discussion with my boyfriend about moving forward. He put one foot in front of the other and decided to move forward in his career, and I told him just making the step took courage. You have to keep moving towards what God wants for you, otherwise you may never see it. I just loved reading this.

    Kia / KTS
    www.houseofkts.com

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    1. Kia,
      I know we think alike that even the smallest of steps take courage! I'm glad your boyfriend has decided to take the next step - and I hope that also brings good things for you as he moves into his future! xo

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  13. Thank you for this post. I love following you. I have been in a moment of stepping back so I could move forward. Your words spoke volumes to me.

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    1. So glad and grateful! It all takes courage!

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