BECOMING-Not Finished (another look at the Proverbs 31 woman)

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Industrious, thrifty, organized, virtuous, confident, modest, kind, merciful, creative, resourceful, loved, blessed.  Do you ever wish you were all those things?  Does reading that list of attributes exhaust you or deflate you?  I have said it in weeks past, and will say it again.  The Proverbs 31 woman as described in those passages, was not a perfect woman, nor are the passages a description of her in one moment in time.  The passages describe the entirety of her life-who she became.

We are becoming.  So often we want a list and we want to check it off-maybe even twice.  We want to be finished.  In reality though, were we to find ourselves finished, life would be over.  Scripture reminds us we are becoming.  We are ever running after the goal, seeking to be strengthened as we approach the finish line.

becoming:  
Adjective:  1.  that suits or gives a pleasing effect or attractive appearance, as to person or thing:

a becoming dress; a becoming hairdo.  2.  suitable; appropriate; proper:  a becoming sentiment.
Noun:  3.  any process of change.  4.  Aristotelianism. any change involving realization of potentialities, as movement from the lower level of potentiality to the higher level of actuality. (Dictionary.com)
I love the definition of becoming.  I want the adjective to describe me and I want the noun to be taking place.  What makes me be pleasing , suitable?  The change taking place in me.  Becoming more like the one who created me.
The Proverbs 31 woman became who she was after years of becoming.  She sought wisdom, she sought to grow, she sought help.  As she grew, as she became, she did.  All along the way though, she had to make decisions.  She wasn’t becoming just because she lived.  She was becoming because she decided she wanted to.  She set before her priorities. She made a decision every day to guard those priorities, to work towards becoming the woman she felt God calling her to be.  
We too must decide.  Being organized, thrifty, caring, industrious, strong all require action on our part.  It doesn’t happen because we are by nature any of those things.  They each require some action, something we have to decide to do.  And, in order to take any action, we must set aside time to be engaged in those things we know will help us become the woman we want to be.  I can’t be thrifty if I am daily making runs to the grocery store picking up dinner items.  I can’t be caring if I constantly forget friends’ birthdays, fail to block off time to serve others, run late.  I will not be physically strong and able to work/serve if I am not exercising and eating correctly.  Becoming a Proverbs 31 woman doesn’t just happen.  It requires choice, daily choice, daily sacrifice, daily obedience.
I challenge you, and myself, let’s not be finished.  Don’t give up.  Don’t allow fear or frustration to keep you from decisions. Don’t get overwhelmed.  Let’s continue becoming.  I want to be that attractive, effective woman.  I want to continue growing and changing so that when my time on earth is done and I attain my reward it will be said of me, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”
Think about your priorities.  Block off time this next week to focus on doing something-even just one thing-to become in that area.  My weakness-exercise.  I’m blocking off time 4 days next week to exercise for at least 30 minutes.  We can become. 
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Proverbs 31: An End to the Stay At Home Mom vs The Career Mom

I so often wonder why women hurt each other so very much.  I have experienced it at the hands of so called friends, I have inflicted it upon so called friends, I have watched my daughters stung by words and exclusion of so called friends, I witness it in the church and I don’t know a woman in the workforce who wouldn’t attest to the fact that women are hard to work for. Women, we are fierce and yet weak and insecure.  We compensate by building walls or building up our own self-esteem at the expense of another’s.

Last week I attended a women’s networking group for women in business.  The topic?  Negotiating.  Great speaker.  In fact she was a woman who had been through a deep spiritual experience as she sought to become the woman she wanted to be instead of the woman she was “posing” as.  Where did the presentation go?  Where it sadly goes so often-the harshness of women, our insecurity, our overcompensating.  It was refreshing though to be in a room of women I didn’t know, all there for “business” purposes, but all seeking wisdom on how to do life better, be better.

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Proverbs 31:13-14 informs us of the woman’s work.  She worked with wool and flax making clothing, blankets.  She is compared to merchant ships bringing her food from afar, trading at the marina.  Clearly she worked, and worked hard. Does it matter if she worked for someone else, worked in a storefront or worked from home?  I have never understood the debate we create – especially at church.  Where and how we work is not a reflection of our spirituality.  Who we are at work or at home or at church is a reflection of our spirituality.  Whether or not we engage in the debate, judging other women for their choices, their efforts, their calling is a reflection of our spirituality.  Taking a side, defending our choice, by judging others is a reflection of our spirituality.

The Proverbs 31 woman lived in a very dark time for Israel.  Life was hard, resources were few and theft/plundering was common.  This woman of faith didn’t spend her time contemplating which “camp” of women she wanted to align herself with.  This woman of faith kept her eye on her priorities.  She knew she must bring good to her husband and family (vs 11-12).  She went to work.  She was industrious.  Somehow I don’t think this woman afforded herself much time for idle talk, games of Bunko, supper clubs or mani/pedis.  She was too busy seeing the needs in front of her, working to meet those needs and keeping her focus on God for sustenance, strength, and hope.  She struggled little with insecurity, not because she was proud, but because she kept her focus on God, His precepts.  She spent little time comparing and instead focused on serving any and all she could influence.  She focused on having excellent character, wisdom, skills and compassion.

These verses, more than any others in this passage, convict me.  I so often fall prey to looking around, comparing my life to others, allowing the comparison game to drain me.  Fatigue sets in and my industriousness wanes.  In the end I hurt myself, my family and sometimes those around me.  My words become harsh.  Discontent can drive unnecessary spending.  My priorities shift and I become more important than He.

As women of faith can we see past a list of “to do” items in Proverbs 31 and really see the passage for what it is?  It is a description of a woman who found her worth in God.  It is a description of a woman who focused on her God, her family and her community – in that order.  It is the description of a spiritually, physically and mentally healthy woman.  Let’s put down our judgement.  Let’s pull away from the debates.  In fact, let’s agree there is no debate.  We work.  We seek to be industrious, trustworthy and compassionate.  We keep our eyes on God, we see needs around us and we work.

Being Mom Takes Time

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Being mom takes time.  I have struggled with what to write about today.  I am not one of those bloggers with weeks or months or pre-written blog posts dated and ready to post.  Some days I wish.  No, I’m a busy mom, a Christ follower just dabbling in this thing called the “blogging world”, primarily as a means of accountability.

I am a mom.  I own an organizing business and speaking ministry.  I home school and am very engaged in my church and association.  Life is full and if I am not VERY careful I can quickly allow my job, my volunteer activities to overshadow my being wife and mom.  Sadly, as I enter women’s homes or lives through my business or speaking ministry, I find far too many women have let this very thing happen.  They are well meaning women.  Most are women of faith.  Yet, being mom and wife has lost its place as a priority, second only to their relationship with Christ.  Their calendars and time are consumed with what they are DOING for their families instead of who they are BEING for their families.  They do things: buy an abundance of things; pay for an abundance of opportunities/lessons/activities; they drive from place to place keeping a schedule.  In the frantic pace of life though the stuff begins to overtake and the relationships begin to suffer, mom begins to suffer.

Being a mom takes time.  Not just time for cleaning, cooking, driving, purchasing, but time to be with your kids, your family. It requires focus and planning.  Too often the home is in chaos because mom has failed to block off time to be mom, doing the stuff and being present.

What is the solution?  I believe the solution is to constantly give thought to what kind of home you want to have.

First, dream.  Write it down.  Do you envision family meals and evenings playing board games in a home that reflects order?  Do you envision Saturday mornings baking in the kitchen with your daughter?  Do you dream of a home where everything has its place and at least 75% of the time is in its place?  Not perfection, but calm and beauty?  Cut pictures out of a magazine. Create a dream board.  (I keep a notebook with me that has my “dream” snapshots pasted to the back pages.)

Second, time block.  You’ve heard me say it before.  And I don’t just write about it, I live it.  the only way you will ever be the wife and mom you want to be is if you block off time to take care of the tasks you need to take care of.  Don’t just block it off, but guard it.  Multi-tasking is NOT a good thing.  In fact there are studies out now pointing to the dangers of multi-tasking.  Multi-tasking is really nothing more than being distracted.  Guard your mom time.  Drive the kids to school and lock your phone in the glove compartment.  Block off an hour when the kids get home from school or you get in from work to catch up, prep dinner.  Again, turn off the cell phone, turn off the television, put away the calendar.  If you are responsible for cleaning the home, getting the groceries, block off time to take care of those tasks.  They won’t magically happen.  You won’t “find” time to get it done.  You have to plan to get it done.

I don’t always like being mom.  I get tired of doing laundry, planning meals, running to Target.  What I do like though is knowing that at the end of the week my family and I have shared laughs around the dinner table, arguments have been minimized because we all had the clean clothes we needed.  I enjoy a less than perfect home, but one in which we are always ready to welcome friends and family.

Being mom is important.  Being mom takes time.  Don’t let life race by.  Don’t just be a doing mom.  Be a present, giving mom.  Make time to focus on your family and set the tone for your home.  It won’t be easy, you won’t succeed week in and week out, but when you get it right, you’ll be so glad you made time to be mom.

No Such Thing as Balance

We all long for balance.  The problem is there is no such thing as balance.  Life is not perfect.  We are not perfect.  Others around us are not perfect.  Harsh words for a recovering perfectionist.  Harsh reality for all of us finding ourselves battling the striving versus the being.

There is no such thing as balance.  Our days will be too full.  The unexpected will happen.  Something or everything will take too long.  As we seek to live a more organized life, to live our priorities in a meaningful way, we need to remember that balance will never be achieved.  The scales will always be tipped just a little one way or the other, AND that is o.k

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As long as the scales are gently rocking back and forth we can maintain, we can move forward, we can be confident we are living our priorities.  It is when the scales go crashing to one side or the other we need be concerned.  This week my business is taking more of my time, tipping the scales to one side.   However, I continue to protect our family dinner time, to honor the coming holy holiday, and limit the number of appointments next week.  When I can release the idea of balance, perfection, I can honor my family, friends, clients, home.  I can free myself from guilt as I meet the priorities of each given day or week, knowing next week there will be a shift in priorities.

It can be difficult to keep the scales gently rocking back and forth.  And there are those times, times of unexpected illness, loss, and even opportunity, that keep the scales tipped to one side longer than normal.  As long as there is a shifting back, as long as we remember the shift is necessary, that’s o.k.

My paper planner is key to helping me keep my eye on my priorities, keeping the scales from tipping too far to one side or the other.

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Across the top of my weekly pages I have a column for each of my priority areas.  My Home, Children, Business, Blog, Volunteer Commitments.  It is here I can track the weekly tasks.  Not only does this allow me to capture all the things I need to get done, it allows me to see where the bulk of my tasks are.  If week after week my business or volunteer activities require the bulk of my tasks, I can see the scales are tipped and I need to make some adjustments, focusing energy and tasks on family, myself, our home.  If I struggle to find a category in which to place the tasks, I know I need to assess my activities, determine if it is time to change priorities, let something go in order to embrace a new opportunity, new season. When a week seems overwhelming I can look to the next and make adjustments, focusing attention on another area/category.

There is no such thing as balance.  There is a gentle ebb and flow.  Once I embrace the ebb and flow, remembering the goal is to keep the scales gently tilting back and forth, I can release myself from the grip of perfection, the striving to do it all, and live more fully.  I can trust that while this week may be more about work, next week can be more about family, friends, caring for a loved one.  I can live a more beautiful life of purpose.

Why Does It Take a Snow Day?

I like to live life at a different pace.  Life is slower in our home than in many.  My husband and I made a commitment early on to keep the frantic pace of life at bay.  Some may call us boring.  Some say we are depriving our children of opportunities. Others I am sure think we are not social enough, and lack thereof keeps our children from future success.  We know many though who envy our choice.  We have had many ask us how we do it.  Most walk away saying they wish they could, but they’re already too invested in the frantic.

I don’t really know why we made the choice we did.  I know in part, it was a result of working with youth before we had our girls.  We listened to the kids complain about exhaustion, talk about playing sports they really didn’t want to play any more. We saw them slip away from church as athletic practices and social events took up their time.  We heard them discuss grown up topics-things they were too young to be thinking about.  Life events around us also impacted our thinking.  We watched marriages crumble.  We have seen depression set in and three different friends commit suicide.  We lost Paul’s mom early in our marriage and long before her time should have come.

We live a slower paced life.  We have made it a priority to eat meals at home.  We eat breakfast together and eat dinner together every night.  We have made it a point to have uncluttered weekends-time for just us-time just to clean cars, work in the yard, watch television.  We have made it a point to take family vacations-alone.  No extra friends.  Just us.  We have told our girls we expect them to do their very best, but we have not pushed them to be “advanced”.  In fact, we have treasured watching our girls be kids, enjoy being kids.  We want that innocence and unencumbered life to last as long as it can.  We want them to grow in wisdom, not just in knowledge.  We want them to know rest and what it means to “be still and know that I am God.”  We want them to have strength to serve.  We want them to know that home is always their safe place to fall.

We have made many mistakes along the way.  We fight.  Our girls complain.  We may have to pay a little more than others for college tuition.  I don’t know.  What I do know is it always makes me a little sad to see how many talk about or post about enjoying time with family, having a break from the hectic schedules, eating dinner all together for the first time in months… all because it snowed.  Why does it take a snow day to get us to slow down?  I fear we are addicted to the hectic.  I fear living fast paced keeps us from dealing with our realities.  Yet, the majority are exhausted.  Our children are losing faith-literally walking away from their faith.  What if we lived every day as if it were a snow day?

Enough- Do We Just Keep Saying It or Do We Mean It?

I promise you at least a dozen times this weekend I heard someone say, “Enough”, “I’m tired of this”, “Are you kidding me, still?”. I said it myself.  “Enough” of this not getting the chores done.  “Enough” of these busy weekends.  “Enough” of the complaining. We all thought it as election day came and went.  “Enough.”

As I struggled with my own “enough” I had to admit that those things I most often say “enough” over, are the things I am hesitant to confront or change.  They are those things I feel compelled to do because the world offers them up as ‘important’, ‘necessary’, ‘obligatory’.  They are those things I fear will cause me social harm if not done.  They are those things I assume everyone else is doing, juggling with success.  But I must tell you, the more I sit and listen.  The more I find myself seeking to be a hearer and not a just a doer, the more I realize that very few people are meeting success with overbooked, overfilled, over stimulated lives.  In fact, it seems most of us are saying, “Enough.”

I decided to be deliberate.  I wrote down those things I felt were my “enough” items.  I prayed over them during the course of the weekend.  I was reminded most of what I had had “enough” of, was worldly.  We run, racing from one event to another. We fill our kids’ schedules to overflowing afraid they won’t make the team, or be “in” with the right group if we don’t keep up. We choose athletic practices over Sunday evening bible study or Wednesday discipleship.  We choose extra curricular activities, social events over dinner around the table with family.  We guilt ourselves into being at every church event lest those church ladies begin to gossip and judge our spirituality.  We run.  We race.  We grow weary.

God took me back to a scripture so well know.  Romans 12:3.  “Be not conformed.”  How easily we read the words.  Many of us can quote them as easily as we quote John 3:16.  But do we live them?  I don’t.  In those moments of “enough” I realize I vital the scripture is.

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God calls me to live differently.  My life, my calendar should not look like everyone else’s.  It should not resemble the calendar of one who does not serve the risen God.  My life should look different.  My calendar should look different.  His pattern leads to refreshment, peace, joy in the midst of trials.  His path leads to victory as I release the hurts and fears to Him.  I have to make a choice to renew my mind.  I can’t keep racing.  I can’t just keep going.  I have a decision to make.  In that moment of “enough” if I am to live transformed, I must stop and ask myself, “Is this necessary?  Is this the best for me, for my kids, for our family?”  I don’t have to just say, “Enough” and carry on.  I need to stop.  I need to let my “Enough” be a sincere word, an end to the crazy running, striving, seeking affirmation.  “Enough” should drive me to my quiet place, the sitting in stillness asking for Him to speak, give me scripture, guidance.  “Enough” should drive me to live transformed, to quit living conformed.

I challenge you today.  If you have uttered the word “enough” in recent days.  Go back.  What is it you have had “enough” of?Dare to let the “enough” drive you to deliberateness of thought, action.  Dare to stand out from the crowd.  Dare to live as you, as I, as we His church have been called to live-transformed.  Quit being conformed.  Enough is enough.

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Three Simple Steps to Success

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I was asked today how I get things done.  I had to laugh, because this morning was another morning I found myself awake at 3:00 a.m. worrying about all the things I hadn’t gotten done, or feared I would never do. It always amazes me how we see ourselves so different from the way others see us.  I wonder sometimes which view is more accurate, more true.  I think most often how others see us is a more accurate reflection of who we are.  As women we are hard on ourselves-we set high standards and often expect the impossible of ourselves.  It’s nice every now and then to hear from someone else what they think of you-how they perceive you. The innocent question this morning served as a little pick me up in the midst of my worry and striving.

The truth is “it” will never be finished.  There will always be more to do.  If I am growing and learning and stretching, that is exactly as it should be.  Doesn’t make it any easier.  Frustrations rise when the dog tracks in mud on the clean floors, the kids pull out from under the bed or floor of their closet, two more loads of laundry just when I thought the last piece had been dried and hung and the husband informs me we are out of coffee just after my face is washed and visions of pajamas are dancing in my head.  Add to that the request to serve one more day of lunch duty or fill in for a sick co-worker/friend.  I know you know.  We all know.  We all get it.  It’s life.  We can either fight it or we can embrace every moment of it as a gift and give it our all.  We can linger in frustration, resist doing or we can give ourselves a pep talk (coffee with a friend does wonders for me!) and pick back up.

I don’t do it all.  In fact I am almost (believe me when I tell you it has been a long work in progress) done trying.  I have learned to scale back my to do list.  I have learned that there is ONE thing I absolutely will not give up.  I have learned  there is a time (literal time) to stop.  I haven’t learned the lessons easily.  I am not perfect.  But these three things truly transform my day, which transforms my week, which transforms my life.

1.  I arise early and spend time with God.  I used to think there was no “right” time to do this.  I would now argue strongly that is false.  God asks for first fruits.  The Old Testament was full of instructions about offerings and first fruits.  Christ came to fulfill that law, but we see in His daily living that He gave God His first fruits.  Choosing to spend time with God first thing in the morning matters.  It matters because that is about as close as I will ever be to being sinless.  It is important because no one else has begun pecking at me, seeking my attention.  It matters because He says it matters.  I began this practice in high school.  While I have missed days, it really rarely happens, and believe me when it does, it is rarely pretty.  Arise early and spend time with God.

2.  Drink 8 glasses of water a day.  This one I struggle with.  I love water.  I grew up being a water drinker.  I prefer water to most drinks.  But some how, the idea of drinking 8 glasses in one day overwhelms me and the more cognizant I am of it, the harder it is.  However, nothing makes me feel better than doing this one thing.  I am more energized.  I think more clearly.  I rarely get a migraine.  I eat less.  The list could go on.  Drink 8 glasses of water a day.

3.  This last one is fairly new to me.  Shortly after my girls were born (about 15 years ago) I began to struggle with fatigue and some autoimmune health issues.  I need sleep.  Like every good American, I wasn’t getting it.  I began to go to bed earlier.  For me to do number one, arise and spend time with God, I have to get up between 5:00 and 5:30 a.m.  So, count backwards and that means a 9:30 bed time.  I rarely make it to bed that early and NEVER fall asleep that early (but that is a whole other issue), but I did begin “shutting down the house” at 9:00 p.m.  My girls quickly learned that coming to mom at 9:15 to get a signature on a paper, ask for a school uniform shirt to be washed etc… wasn’t gonna cut it.  In fact, it wasn’t gonna happen.  Recently though I found myself filling the evening time with other items: e-mail, Facebook, writing, cards, ironing, etc…  I was finding myself less and less engaged with my family.  So, I now try to wrap up all work by 2:00 p.m.  I try to have the three most important tasks for the day, the ones that move me towards my goals or project deadlines, completed by 2:00 p.m.  That leaves me the afternoon to catch up, do household chores etc…  I am now getting dinner cleaned up and then focusing on time with the family.  I am getting a lot of reading done, but I am less distracted and way less irritable if someone wants to sit and visit or needs a little extra help with homework or simply wants to talk.  I’ll even throw in a last minute load of laundry.  I am not as firm about “shutting down the house”, but having this extra couple of hours to just be, relate with my family, has honestly resulted in all of us being more ready to “shut it down” around 9:00/9:30.  Complete your three most important tasks by 2:00 p.m. and then block off the time after dinner for family.

Three simple disciplines.  They make a difference.  They keep me centered.  They help me know my priorities.  They make me healthier.  They create opportunity for being.  I got number one down.  I’m not giving up on number two and three.  I am less “successful” there, but I’ll keep on trying.

 

Perfect Planner-Business Pages to Keep Me Going

Where did Friday go?  Ever have one of those weeks?  This has been one.  I love fall.  I love back to school-not because my kids go back to school, but because it is the beginning of a new year: new calendar; new schedules; new plans…  However, it takes a a bit to get used to it all and to get all my systems in place.  My planner helps, in fact I couldn’t survive without it.  It keeps me focused.  I can also trust my planner when I can’t trust my brain!

I currently home-school one of my daughters.  I strive to live my priorities God, family, then work.  I have been privileged to have the opportunity to stay at home.  When my girls entered middle school I began working towards developing opportunities to earn some income, while still keeping my priorities.  For a brief period I actually went back to work outside the home, working for someone else.  The discontent was overwhelming-not just for me, but for my family.  It became clear I needed to be back home, where God had called me years earlier.  I had to quit comparing myself to others.  I had to quit wondering why I couldn’t “do it all” like some of my friends and acquaintances.  That’s not what it was about.  It was about God’s call for me.  What my life looks like is and will be different from that of others.  I can’t explain it.  I don’t always understand it.  That’s o.k.  God has plans.  His plans are often not in accordance with our ways.  It is not for me to understand, it is just for me to obey.

That being said, I am back at home.  I have begun an organizing business with one of my best friends and recently Mary & Martha found me, I am an independent consultant.  I have my real estate license, but am not sure where that will go or how long  I will keep that.  Managing our home, home-schooling, working in ministry through the Christian Women’s Job Corps and the Women’s Missionary Union, and juggling these income opportunities is challenging.  I was really struggling with keeping information at my fingertips.  I love binders, and for a while each project had a binder.  Problem was, I was frequently out or away from my office space and needed to be able to access some information.  As I began to build my new planner using Life is Crafted products I decided to add some business pages in the back.

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I have a tab for each business.  Behind each tab I keep a running Master To Do list.  I write down things I need to do to develop the business.  I can then determine week to week whether or not I have time to work on those tasks or just address the immediate clients/tasks.  Next, I have a set of monthly tabs.  I keep client intake sheets for my organizing business, hostess information for Mary & Martha, monthly promo sheets for Mary & Martha and any listing or selling agreements/info for my real estate.  I am in process of locating a monthly budget sheet that will help me track income and expenses for the three businesses.  I still keep separate binders for each business, but this allows me to have important data at my fingertips at all times (client names, contact info, listing info…).  The back pocket of the binder holds the current Mary & Martha catalog and brochures for my organizing business, Simplified- Organized- Styled (SOS).  I also keep post-it notes so I can flag items in my calendar, make notes, flag favorites/corrections in the catalog.

Life is crazy.  Things happen.  I can plan and plan, but at the end of the day life can only be lived one day at a time.  I love my planner.  I have no doubt it will continue to evolve and change as life evolves and changes.  I can minimize stress for myself by planning weekly and disciplining myself to write things down.  However, I am learning day by day to remember that God is in control.  I can’t run too for ahead with plans-my plans.  I want to be obedient and I want to be faithful.  I pray weekly and daily over my planner.  I want to do my best at what I have each day.  I want to be faithful.  I want to be ready for whatever he may have in store for me (like homeschooling).  My perfect planner helps me do that.  For it to really work I have to remember:

1.  My ways are not His ways.  I can never quit listening.  I listen best as I pray each morning over my plans.

2.  White space is imperative.  Life will either be full of interruptions (if I plan with no white space) OR it will be full of opportunities (those unexpected things I can do without stress when my calendar has built in white space.)

3.  Obedience to His calling gives peace.

4.  I can NOT do it all.  Life is a marathon, not a sprint.  Today is about today.  Live well today and tomorrow holds opportunity.

5.  My planner is meant to guide me, not control me or confine me.

 

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I QUIT-So I can…

As a professional organizer, I find the greatest mistake people make in managing their time/lives, is NOT knowing when to QUIT.  We don’t like to QUIT-quitting is for losers.  I disagree.  Quitting is the sign of someone who knows their abilities and their limits.  You see, we CAN’T do it all.  Every day I see people attempting to do just that-do it all.  They post on Facebook, they blog, they seek guidance …  We all find ourselves in that place at times.  It is hard to QUIT.  It takes a lot of courage to QUIT.  It takes determination to QUIT.

When your house looks like this (see below), you realize it is time to QUIT.

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We are moving.  We are moving by choice (getting to build a new home).  The problem is, life doesn’t stop because we chose to move.  Work doesn’t slow down, mothering tasks don’t wait, family needs don’t cease to exist.  No, life marches on.  I could attempt to be “SuperMom”, but I’ve been down that road and have yet to have any real success.  I could attempt to squeeze moving tasks into an already full day, OR I can face reality and QUIT something.  All too often we attempt to restructure our days or rearrange our priorities.  There will be no success in doing either of those.  When we are faced with a major project/life event, the only solution to staying organized (and sane) is to quit something already on our plate.  What did I quit?  I quit blogging.  I don’t blog for a living.  I’d love to one day garner referrals or some income from blogging, but for now I blog as a hobby, a means of accountability and to engage with others through social media.  As I reviewed my goals, the projects on my plate, it became apparent I needed to QUIT blogging.  I can’t add hours to my day or days to my week.  I can only work within the parameters of a 24 hour 7 day week.  God designed it that way.  Time is finite.  The move will happen (actually we have to make 2 moves as a result of a quick sale of our current home-but who’s to complain in this market!?!)  It will take a few months, and there will be need for some “settling/nesting” time.  That’s OK.  I will blog when snippets of time become available.  But mostly, my time will be focused on this new life event/project.  I’ll quit blogging so I can make the new event/project a priority.  I’ll quit blogging so I can focus on the tasks at hand and enjoy this opportunity.  I’ll quit blogging because I simply don’t have time to blog and move.  I will QUIT so I can move.

If you are struggling to find time for everything please consider the following:

1.  STOP-step back and make a list of all your priorities/projects.

2.  ASSESS-which priorities/projects are non-negotiables-you CAN NOT give them up.  Be honest.  Can any of them be delegated?  Will quitting one of them mean the end of the world?

3.  IDENTIFY-name the priority/project that can be put on hold or discarded permanently.

4.  CREATE-a new priority and map out all of the tasks leading to its completion.

5.  PLUG IN-assign the tasks to specific weeks/days and if possible time slots.

6.  LET GO-be free from guilt over quitting.  Trust the opportunity will still exist when the new priority/project is completed.  Enjoy what you have opportunity for now.

 

 

 

Average: Perfectly Acceptable to Me

Average:   a level that is typical of a group, class, or series : a middle point between extremes.  

The above is “average” as defined in the Webster dictionary.  Nothing extraordinary.  A simple word.  Why then do we as a culture, as parents, gasp at the very utterance of the word?  Why has “average” become something negative, looked down upon?  Why this drive to excellence-not just for ourselves, but for our children?  There is this never ending push, striving for excellence.  One can no longer just play ball in the backyard and make the school team.  One can no longer take instrument lessons from the sweet lady down the street and expect an opportunity in the school orchestra or a chance to obtain a scholarship.  One can no longer take “regular” classes at school and even dream of getting into the best college and receive financial aide.  Everything, everything seems to be about achieving excellence, being accelerated.  A 4.0 GPA is to be frowned upon. Now we demand or expect a 5.6 GPA and our 18 year old children to enter college as Sophomores!

What happened to average?  Average is really all I want.  It is perfectly acceptable to me.  Especially as a parent.  I would love to think my kids are “a middle point between extremes”.  I want my children to be more focused on WHO they are, than WHAT they are.

As I pondered this thought, that average is perfectly acceptable, I turned to scripture.  What does God expect of us?  No place in scripture does God ask for excellence.  Not one place in scripture does God say we are to perform at a higher standard than everyone else.  Quite the contrary.  Repeatedly in scripture God says we are to be humble, “the least of these shall inherit”, and the last shall be first.  He told us the rich man was not greater than the widow who gave her one mite.  God didn’t call men of wealth or position or of education to be a part of the inner circle to walk with His Son on this earth.  And the few who did have some means or success in their “careers” He asked to walk away from it all.  God did not send His Son to be born in a five star resort, a midst the royalty of the day.  He chose a young girl, of little means, to bare His son.  He sent her on a donkey to a small village town, to give birth to her son in a stable, surrounded by sheep, goats and donkeys.

I think average is perfectly acceptable to God.  I believe He wants me and my children to do everything we do to the best of our abilities and “as for Him”.  But, I still think He finds average perfectly acceptable, in fact desired.  God doesn’t want me striving for earthly success.  He doesn’t want me to strive for position or wealth.  God wants me to strive for Him.  He asks that I yearn for Him, for wisdom.  He asks that I earnestly seek Him.  He asks that I persevere and run the race.  He doesn’t ask me to win the race.  He just asks that I run it and I run it with my eyes on Him.

That is all I want of and for my children.  I want them to be willing to spend more time seeking God than they spend seeking straight A’s.  I want them loving Him with their whole beings-heart, soul and mind (Matthew 23:37).  Secondly, I want them to allow that love to spill over into others (Matthew 23:38).

Does this mean I wont’ challenge my children?  Does this mean a C average in school is all I expect?  No.  I expect them to work hard, to give everything they do their best effort. But, if the choice is between making the team only if they invest 5-6 hours per week in expensive, private coaching, the answer is “NO.”  If taking AP and college concurrent courses means they can’t attend Wednesday night worship, work to sacrifice and save for a mission trip, or engage in missions in their community, then the AP and college concurrent courses won’t make the cut in our house.  Average will be just fine.

When I stand, when they stand, before Christ at the judgement seat and are asked, “Did you love me?  Did you really love me?” I want to, I want them to, be able to say, “Yes, Lord I loved you above all else.  I loved you so much your loved spilled over into others and they too learned to love you.”

More than ever I am convinced it is OK for me to accept average.  I challenge you to accept average.  What are you and/or your children missing out on as you chase after excellence/success as defined by the world?  Will it matter when you die?  Does it honor God?  Is it a means of loving Him, worshiping Him?  If not, could you give it up and refocus those monies, time and energy on Him?

Average-it’s perfectly acceptable.