Calming the Chaos with 3 Focused Routines

Originally published Saturday, 09 February 2019.

As I look back on 2018, it was nothing like I anticipated it to be. There were many great times full of family, friends, laughter, memories, and successes. However, there were also darker times of confusion, heartache, frustration, and disappointment. Unfortunately, the latter things are what I am tempted to focus on when I think about the past year. 

It is so easy to be caught up in the chaos and miss out on the beautiful parts of everyday life when our eyes squint into the shadows of disappointment. I am more than ready to put 2018 in the past and move forward. As I began to think and pray about what 2019 has in store and what I want to be different, I have many ideas. However, I am having difficulty putting them all into one word as a guide. Then it hit me: what I’m craving in the year ahead is routine.

While there are still many unknowns ahead, and a work schedule that seems to consistently thwart my plans, there can still be routines that will help me focus on what is important and not feel as scattered in the year ahead. In 2019, I will cultivate routine in; words, time, and in seeking joy.

Wordy Routines

This year, I intend to both read and write more words. I want to make this part of my routine, spending less time on social media or in front of the television, and more time, intentionally reading and writing more. While scripture is not the only thing I will be reading, this is the routine that I plan on cultivating most. A big part of the upheaval  of the last year is that I didn’t make enough time to to study the words of God. It makes a huge difference when I spend time this way, and I don’t do it nearly often enough.

I found myself kind of in a slump, making other things a priority or having a woe is me attitude. This year, to help cultivate that routine, I plan on reading the Bible chronologically, using Tara-Leigh Cobble’s The Bible Recap reading plan and podcast series. You can learn more about this by listening to Jamie Ivey’s interview with her on The Happy Hour.

Timely Routines

One area of my life that I’ve found extremely helpful, but so often fail at, is keeping my time routine. I use the excuse of weird work hours to sleep half the day away and just flow with unassigned time. However, when I intentionally make myself wake up at a certain hour, no matter how late I get home or get to sleep, I feel better and can get a lot more accomplished.

I have been having a lot of trouble sleeping lately, but during the month of September, I made myself stick to a loose routine about when I got up, and while it was rough on the nights that I worked later or had trouble falling asleep, I felt a lot better and ultimately, did get more sleep. I somehow let myself fall back into randomness lately and that needs to change. Along with sleep, other areas of my life will be more routine in the coming year as well. There is still room for spontaneity, but I need some semblance of timely routine in certain areas for my own health and sanity.

Routinely Seeking Joy

As mentioned before, I let the chaos and disappointments of this last year get the better of me many times. As I dwell more on God’s word and set routines in my life, this year I plan on seeking joy in the everyday things of life. That doesn’t mean things will always be easy and happy, but I will have a better mindset if looking for those things is my priority rather than dwelling on the negatives and unknowns. There is a quote that I came across by Rachel Marie Martin that struck a chord with me and is exactly what I want the year ahead to look like. “Sometimes you have to let go of the picture of what you thought it would be like and learn to find joy in the story you are actually living.”

There are still a lot of unknowns in the year ahead, and a lot of confusion as to what I am supposed to do and where I am supposed to go, but I am so thankful that I can trust a known God, that He has a plan in the chaos and in the routine, and that there may be surprises ahead, but I need not fear. Here’s to 2019, routines, and a healthier outlook on life. 

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.  Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:11-13 (ESV)

Karly is a single 30-something who is striving to follow Jesus and trust Him in every situation. She can be found with a cup of tea or a good beer in hand while cozied up with a good book or enjoying a laugh with family or friends. God has her on a wild journey and she’s excited to see where He leads.