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You need to understand something: I don’t do well when life gets messy.


At the end of the day if I’m left holding handfuls of loose ends, with too many unfinished tasks on my to-do list staring back at me…


When I start feeling overwhelmed, and clutter and chaos threaten to paralyze my orderly thought processes…

On days when nothing seems to go right…

I don’t mind admitting, my natural inclination is to resist and refuse what reality hands me… or to start shutting down…

This can’t be my life, I whisper to no one in particular. I’m not this scatter-brained… What happened to MY plans, and why can’t I seem to pull things together anymore?

We’re now in the third week of school, and the summer of upheaval has just come to an end. Everything turned upside down for several weeks, adding more responsibilities to this ministry family, requiring the Preacher to work on his days off a few times, and preempting our vacation plans.

Not one single project on my summer project list got done.

But, now things are righting themselves nicely. Church members are smiling again—excited about learning God’s Word for the first time in a long time. Makes our busy-ness and sacrifices worth it.

Maybe we can squeeze in some time off during the holidays. See? I can be flexible when I need to be.

The other day, though, chaos reigned!  With responsibilities mounting, and things at home being neglected, my patience had worn thin. You’ve heard of the last straw? A major meltdown loomed on my horizon.

Here’s the short version:

Early commute with the Preacher to save gas—even though I didn’t need to be there till afternoon. Drank protein shake on the way. Took a long list of things to do and errands to run. Somehow, forgot my tote bag and folders for writing class.

Thankfully, lesson plans, etc. are saved on my laptop. First writing class of the year. Prayed hard.

Had missed deadlines on column and another article, but finished both and sent them in.

Made phone calls. Saw issue needing attention, but wasn’t the right time. Prayed again. What to do, Lord?

Another phone call—over half an hour(!) with a customer service rep, who was obviously new at his job.


He wouldn’t take care of my issue the way it’s normally done. Too complicated, he said, insisting we try everything EXCEPT my suggestion, which I repeated more than once. Simple procedure, really—usually takes 10 minutes.

But not this time.

Several times—and very politely—I asked to talk to someone else. But he couldn’t transfer me, he said.

Frustration rising within… minutes ticking by…


With his last set of impossible instructions, I ended the call.

Church secretary heard the whole thing—couldn’t believe it.

Waited a minute, and called again. Thankfully, got someone who spoke my language, and knew exactly what to do. Took 10 minutes.

Visitor showed up. We chatted.

An entire hour, gone. So much for running errands this morning.

Stomach growled. Rearranged to-do list. Typed and printed writing exercises, letter to parents and homework slips, with bites of sandwich in between.

People in and out of office. More chatting…

A mom came in, ready to talk over lunch. Suddenly remembered what I had forgotten. Didn’t have time. Maybe later? She agreed.

Got email from Editor. Couldn’t make sense of my column!?!? Heart-rate increased.

Less than an hour before class would start. Heavy sigh. Still much to do. Lost my appetite. Resisted urge to cry. Felt scream starting to surge inside me.

Instead, brought up document, glanced through. Could see his point. Ugh.

Back and forth emails… left phone message.

Did he want a re-write?

I wasn’t free till after 2. He was only free until 2.

Still resisting urge to cry/scream/hide in bathroom with door locked/stop the planet and get off.

More emails. Maybe just a small change, he said. No re-write, but something added for transition.

Whew! Let me start class and I’ll call back, I told him.

Finished printing and making copies.

Was informed I’d have some students who may or may not be able to handle the class.

Lovely. The smile on my face did not reach my heart. More prayer.

Still scrambling between interruptions to get prepared… 5 minutes to go, thought I’d have 6 students. Now, who knows…?

Ran around doing last minute stuff, muffled scream rose and escaped while half-running down hallway—pressure released, somewhat.


Close to tears in bathroom. No time to brush teeth. Grabbed breath mints. Another emergency prayer for help. Pulled papers together. Grabbed stapler and more breath mints.

Time for class. 10 students, one sick, 11 total. New faces. Seventh grade through twelfth grade. Should be an interesting year.

Asked older student to make more copies. Gave intro speech, explained instructions, answered questions. Prayed to begin. Literally felt my spirit calm. Started first writing exercise.

Left the room and listened. Quiet. Hmm… no talking—good sign.

Moved laptop near phone. Called Editor. Explained: so much art in two galleries, tried to give overview… condensed, you know.

A few questions from him. Explanations from me. He added a sentence for transitioning from one thought to another.

All better. Shoulders relaxed. Smile in heart reached my face. Said Goodbye.

Still not much noise from class. Walked in. No goofing off. Most were half-way through. All were making an effort (another whew!). More smiles… laughter. By end of class, we had bonded.

The mom came back to talk. Had a few minutes to spare.

Put things away. Made more phone calls. Ran errands. Headed down the mountain while Preacher and I chatted.

Favorite Daughter (so what if she’s our only daughter—she’ still my favorite!) stood in kitchen making surprise casserole, potatoes au gratin, for dinner. Awww…


I scrambled some eggs and sautéed broccoli, poured iced tea. We ate while watching BBC.

Folded clothes. Cleaned kitchen.

Climbed into bed with a grateful heart and prayer of thanks. (Just think what a worse mess I would have made of things if I had fallen apart or blown up!)

Slept soundly.

This is the day the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.

(Photo of messy desk courtesy of Sugar Pond; painting of The Scream by Edvard Munch)