A meme with a waterfall and the word Flow at the top of the image

@JeanneTakenaka

In May, I participated in a twelve-day Instagram writer’s challenge. It was both challenging and fun. We were given a different word each day and created posts about those words relating to our writer’s life. 

As I contemplated each word, I discovered correlations between writing life and real-life. I wanted to share some of those posts with you all. I’ve expanded on the original posts, and I’d love your thoughts on these words as they relate to your life as well.

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Being in the flow of life . . . It seems like time flows, second-by-second, moment-by-moment, year-by-year, like a river shaping and directing our lives. It doesn’t stop for interruptions, or joy-filled moments. It flows around each event in our lives, like a river flowing over and around rocks. Sometimes, rapids are created when a lot of water is forced into a small area. 

Isn’t that how stress sometimes feels? We only have so many moments to complete the things on our daily to-do lists, on our hearts. Interruptions force us to re-direct our time. 

A bench is nestled on the far side of a  fast-flowing mountain river

And when those unexpected happenings block up our time—like sticks caught against a rock in a river—stress pushes in, frothing, pressing, thronging onto the borders of our peace.

Those days when I’ve received a call from school asking me to pick up my son because he was hit in the head and was dizzy and nauseous. My entire focus changes.

This sets into motion a phone call to the doctor’s office and praying there’s an available appointment, usually as I’m rushing out the door and driving to the school to make sure my boy-man is okay. 

A calm river running around smaller rocks with larger rocks bordering each side of the water

Forget the phone calls I’d planned to make. Forget other appointments. Forget working on the next scene of the story. Something more important just trumped “the plans.”

Sometimes interruptions feel inconvenient, especially when they involve people I love. And I must adjust my focus and my heart. Some decisions must be made with the mind, and the heart must choose to accept it. 

No, this doesn’t always happen easily or willingly. 
But, yes, adapting is necessary.

Meme: a catamaran heading out to face big waves. The words say: "Some decisions must be made with the mind, and the heart must choose to accept it."

The thing is, I get to choose how I respond to the interruptions that add stress, that cause sticks in the flow of my day to slam against the plans I made. I can get angry and frustrated as the pile of sticks remains and grows. 

Or, I can clear away the debris of the emotions—the change-in-my-plan—and keep my mind and heart moving forward. I tend to be a move-forward kind of gal, but at times the emotions related to a situation hinder me as I grapple with the unexpected stress.

A river flowing with a rock wall, creating rapids as it runs over rocks in its path

I don’t enjoy math, but here’s the equation that can send me reeling: 

Interruptions + time crunch = STRESS

As I consider “my” time, and the flow of “my” days, I must realize each day belongs to my Father, not to me. Yes, I live them, but I want to be yielded to Him, sensitive to His plans for the day. 

A small water fall flowing over rocks

Three thoughts for navigating those unexpected stresses stream into our days:

Let go of expectations and flow with the rhythm of the day. I begin my days expecting certain things will happen. I expect to accomplish certain tasks. Then, when an interruption happens, my first reaction tends to be frustration. These sticks in the flow of my day can bottleneck my productivity. Instead, I need to remember that, though I am the one living this day, God is the One orchestrating it, that His plans for me are good, even if they are inconvenient.

Leave margin so that when (not IF) the unexpected happens, we have the time to manage it. I’m notorious for filling every moment of my days, from the early hour my alarm beeps until the moment I lay my head on my pillow, I expect things to flow in a specific way. When my plan is interrupted, I need to flex with the changes. Though I may not want to alter my plans, or redirect the flow, I need to trust that God’s influencing the path my day takes.

A fast flowing river moving between boulders with irises growing on one side of the river

Remember nothing takes God by surprise, even when we are thrown off. The upside of being a planner is I can accomplish a lot in a day. The downside is, when the unexpected happens, it’s easy to be thrown off-kilter. 

When those phone calls come . . . 

. . . when there’s a diagnosis or a cancelation of something I looked forward to,

. . . or a life change takes me by surprise, 

I remember I’m not the one who’s ultimately in control. My heavenly Father is. 

A mountain river flowing over rocks with autumn colored trees bordering each side of it

And He is never taken by surprise when the unexpected flows into my days. I trust that He’s holding me and the situation in the palm of His hand, and He will guide me through it. He’ll help me find my new “flow,” if I trust Him.

Sometimes, as we walk through our days—as we try to establish a flow so we can do the things we want or/and feel called to do—we must remember we’re not really in control. When we work on the things God’s given us and trust His timing to accomplish them, our days will flow more smoothly.

What about you? How do you respond when unexpected events eat away your time? How do you keep a good flow to your days?

Click to tweet: The thing is, I get to choose how I respond to the interruptions that add stress

I’m linking up with: #RaRaLinkup and #TellHisStory

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