Monday, October 6, 2014


It seems to me that I have two choices. Ebola or Enterovirus. These are the things I should currently be stressing about until I go stark raving mad. They're more important than ISIS or Syria. And those two are more important than Russia and Croatia. (Remember Vladmir Putin? He was the bad guy from a few months ago.) Which are more important than Guantanamo Bay and the immigrant children on the Texas border. Which are more important than cancer. Although it is October so we have to save the tatas. But now we have pumpkin spice latte, which is made with coffee, which is or is not terrible for your health depending on the latest study.

Thank you, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, Twitter, Facebook, TMZ, BBC,, and allthesocialmedia. We truly appreciate the ulcers and never ending sense of panic about things we can't really do much about.

And that's just the big, national or global stuff. There's also the family, life stuff. The getting the kids up and dressed and out the door for church or school, moving across the country, trying to teach kids to be safe and responsible in an always connected world, making the paycheck stretch enough to actually save for college/retirement/emergencies. You know. That stuff.

So sometimes I'm overwhelmed. I hate grocery shopping because the labels lie and the companies cheat and the government supports them and I just want to buy healthy food for my growing family. I hate politics because I struggle to find a few faces in the crowd who are actually in it for the right reasons instead of there to gain power and squash the little people and push their agenda set by the lobbyists with the biggest wallets. I hate the news because it is one story after another of violence and hatred and anger and hurt. I hate the gas station with their 77 different options of fountain drinks, as if we will be fulfilled and joyful humans if we just get the right combination of carbonated drink. (And lest you think I'm joking, I counted the slushy/coffee/pop choices at the kwik trip in Omaha. Seventy-seven. Seriously.)

I don't want to live with my head buried in the sand. I want to be a smart citizen and make informed decisions about things that matter in my life and my neighborhood and my country and my world, but I really can't know all of the information all of the time without freaking out. Without getting overwhelmed.

I feel it in my shoulders. The always tense, always hunched over stress that I carry there. I feel it in my chest. A heaviness that seems to weigh me down. I feel it when the joy and laughter of life seems to go on around me, but never settles into my soul. I've been feeling that lately.
You know that feeling, right?
A few days ago we were driving in the car and I heard the song I'm Overwhelmed by Big Daddy Weave. It took that word, overwhelmed, that I can feel so often in my shoulders and chest and gut and turned it on its head.

I see the work of Your Hands
Galaxies spin in a heavenly dance oh God
All that you are is so overwhelming

I hear the sound of your voice
All at once it’s a gentle and thundering noise oh God
All that you are is so overwhelming

I delight myself in you
Captivated by your beauty
I’m overwhelmed, I’m overwhelmed by you

Haven't you ever looked out of the window and seen a sunrise over a forest of fall trees and just been overwhelmed by the beauty before you? Haven't you watched a baby discover the fun of popping bubbles and been overwhelmed by the simple joys of life? Haven't you ever cuddled up under a thick, fuzzy blanket on a cool, fall day and lost yourself in your favorite book or movie and been overwhelmed by the quiet goodness of life?

I remember visiting the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum in the spring a few years ago and being absolutely overwhelmed by the myriad of green colors on display. I remember wondering how God thought up all of those different shades of green and accepted it as a beautiful gift to unwrap like all the layers of my warm winter woolens.

That's the kind of overwhelmed I want to be.

That's the kind of overwhelmed I am when I spend more time outside and less time indoors. When I read more books and less facebook statuses. When I appreciate my kids more and compare my kids with others less. When I exercise more and eat less junk. When I read the bible more and make fewer excuses about how busy I am. When I pray more and whine less. When I compare myself to others less and live the life my heart tells me to lead more.

It's not exactly hard. It's just kind of difficult.

I get overwhelmed. I get weary. Maybe you do, too. In fact, I bet you do.

Maybe we can be overwhelmed, in the good way, together. Maybe we can share the beautiful pieces of our lives that get us through the rotten parts. It's not about putting on a facade and pretending that the life that goes on within these four walls is perfect. It is not.

I lost my deodorant. (If you must know, I blame the baby.) I have put it on many times in this house, but for the last two days I cannot find it. So, yes, that's me smelling like a man's armpit since I'm using Jim's. I mean, who does that? Clearly only someone who does not have it all together. I shout at my kids sometimes and then feel a whole world of regret. I forget to be the adult modeling appropriate ways of dealing with anger and frustration.

So, no, life isn't sunshine and ice cream sundaes every minute of every day.

But it's still beautiful. It's still a gift. It's still glimpses of glory in the midst of mud puddles. It's still overwhelmingly good. It's still pumpkin patches on a glorious fall afternoon.
And that's pretty darn good.

What about you? Are you overwhelmed in the good way or the bad way today? Here's to a calmer, less Ebola, more enjoying the fall foliage kind of day for all of us.

1 comment:

  1. Yes, overwhelmed both ways - in a day's time. I am overwhelmed by worries about my son and his little family trying to figure out how to live in this rough day to day world and yet, I'm overwhelmed with wonder as I sit at my piano with my beautiful little Ramsee on my lap as she opens up the book on the guide and "reads" the music as she plunks on the keys. I, too, feel the weight of the horror of the violence we get hit with every single day as the world fails to realize the love that God has for it. I feel the joy of the laughter of the children as we sing our Jesus songs in music class - their vibrant giggles and broad smiles make me realize that God is still in control and we have so much to be grateful for. Thank you for reminding us that being overwhelmed can go both ways - God has given us the choice to take the good and laugh, wonder, and rejoice; and He has given us hope to soften the blows of the bad. Love you, DeNae! Give hugs to all of those wonderful small people that I love to hear about and share in their lives. (Jim, too!) God's richest blessings on your week and on your sojourn in Nebraska!