The Days Are Long, But The Years Are Short

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The other day I was just pondering my children. I was thinking about how fast the years are going by. While I have a lot of years ahead of me with my children, have I taken care with the years that are behind me? It some ways yes, but in many ways, no.

Heart Necklace by lacybekah, on Pix-O-Sphere

I wake up each morning, living each day as it comes. I go about our routines of meals and chores and lessons and sleep. I get up the next day and do it all again, and I realize, I am missing it. In living the robotic life I forget to play and enjoy the lives of these children—I don’t invest as much in them as I should because I mistakenly think they will always be there. The long days cloud my mind and I wrongly think I have plenty of time.

When I stop, and I let the house run fast without me, and I, sit there in the viewing of my children, them playing, and smiling, and running, and beckoning me to join them and read them stories, and piece together puzzles, play games. But instead? I jump in with the house running fast because I have to keep up — I have to keep going because, I reason, I don’t have time to live. I have to keep up with those living.

I have been challenged by a few much more wise then me to slow down, live intentionally, and have a plan for my life. I don’t want to look back and say, “Man! I wish I would’ve listened to those people.” I’d much rather look back and say, “Wow! I’m so glad I listened to those wise people!”

Even with my blog I don’t really have a “plan of action”, other than the Homemaker’s Challenge each week. (And in case you haven’t heard, this week’s challenge is along this same line. “Homemakers with a Purpose“.)

Everything I do must have a purpose. Even my blogging. What purpose does it serve? My time online must be intentional for it to be fruitful and not rob me of other precious moments.

Joyful mothering requires some action. It requires living by design, not default. It begs the question, “What would God have me do today?” Obviously, He would have me care for my family and home. But the bigger question is, am I meeting the needs of nurture and spiritual growth? That is where peace and joy are found.

I’ve noticed I keep turning full circle back to the same conclusion. I must live with purpose; not wait to see what the day holds for me, but rather tell my days what they are going to do. Because life truly is a vapor, and God has given us a great gift. Are we using it for His glory? Am I using it for His glory?

Let us begin. I will first complete this weeks homemaker’s challenge.

Are you living intentionally–with purpose? Journey with me so we can learn together.

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“Me Time” – Be Intentional (part 2)

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waterfall by sisterlisa, on Pix-O-Sphere Last week I posted on Two “Me Time” Extremes.

The extremes were that some believe they are entitled to “me time” and plenty of it and often would get angry or frustrated when they couldn’t get it. The other extreme is that some are wholly against this “me time” and believe it to be nothing less than selfish.

Of course, I disagree with both. You can read why I disagree with the first extreme in part 1.

Now, let me explain why I disagree with the second extreme, because this used to be me.

I used to believe that any time I did anything for myself, it was selfish. Everything from doing my hair (blow drying), to putting on make-up, to going out to coffee with a girlfriend. It made me feel guilty, as if my time should be invested somewhere else. So I would always throw my hair up, never add “life” (make up) to my overtired face, and turn down invitations to go out of the house. I fell into the trap that doing any of these things made me less than a sacrificial mother.

The result of doing this? I didn’t take care of myself well. I was constantly burned out (and you could tell). I was literally running on empty and had very little to give to my family. I rarely conversed with adults other than the few minutes before and after church, and my husband in the evenings. (Not that conversing with my husband is not fulfilling, because it is. He’s a great conversationalist and listens well)!

I have heard the argument that God will provide us with the time we need to rejuvenate and I totally agree with that. That’s why He created, and made into law, a day of rest, once a week. The Sabbath day was created for us (humanity) as “permission” to take a day off. (Mark 2:27)

Now, the key is to make this time fruitful. We can take a day off and come back feeling the same way (or worse) then when we left.

The first thing we need to do is

Identify our needs

We go through different seasons, even if it’s on a week to week basis, where we have need of different things. We might need time to talk with a girlfriend over some struggles we’ve dealt with or are dealing with (without family bashing, of course). We might need to go out for genuine FUN to just loosen up our uptight selves! Perhaps we need extra time with God and just need to get away to pray and seek Him through His word. It may just be that we want to CLEAN while the house is empty. Honestly, even that can be refreshing because you are being productive with no interruptions. Sometimes the need for rest is not always physical. For me, it is often NOT physical. Whatever it is, identify what needs to be filled in order to refresh yourself to better serve.

Next,

Plan Accordingly

Based on discovering your need, plan carefully to fill it. If you need to spend more time in the Word and just bask with God, don’t accept an invitation to go out with a girlfriend that week. You will surely come back with an unmet need and not be refreshed for the coming week. That’s when the need for more “me time” comes in. Because our needs were not met. Take care to plan a time when your greatest need will be met that week.

Also, do not plan your time of solitude while the kids are with you and no one else can care for them, if you can help it. This can often end in frustrations because your time is not productive or interrupted. I don’t mean that to sound selfish, but the point is, once a week, you need time to refresh. If the time was not planned well, it will do little good. And everyone is different–if it refreshes you to have time while the kids are still around, that is totally personal for you. :) Maybe your time is productive spending it having FUN with your kids. You know your needs best.

Once you get to your destination,

Be productive

Keep your mind focused on meeting your needs. Don’t get side-tracked into doing something else. If you want to spend time writing [because for me it's a huge release], don’t waste your time social networking or commenting, etc. If you’re a blogger, you know exactly what I’m talking about! Use the time you have the way it was intended so your need is met and your “tank” is filled. (Or stress is released) The point is to stay focused on filling your need. Although this is a time of solitude, it is for your good and the good of your family, and the time needs to be disciplined in order for it to be effective for you.

Finally, after your time of solitude,

Prepare yourself to go home

Don’t allow yourself to remain in the “me time” mentality. Once your time is up, pray, and prepare yourself to serve again. Too often we can remain in a state of solitude in our minds and become distracted from our children or tasks, and/or frustrated with their needs because we are not truly back “home”. So, be sure to prepare yourself to go home and serve again. Be aware that the house will still need cleaning and children tending to when you get home. The whole point of this “me time” is to refresh you to serve again. Resist the temptation [and flesh] to seek more of it before the week comes around again.

A few notes:

  • This time is not the same and should not replace your time with God, in prayer and in His Word, on a daily basis.
  • I believe making this a weekly endeavor is completely acceptable but be sure to talk it over with your husband so you can agree on what will work best for your family.
  • You don’t necessarily need to be out of the house to be productive. However, if you’re anything like me, sometimes getting out is the most productive because you are not in constant view of what needs to be done while you should be focusing on restoration to come back (in body and mind). If you are focused on all that needs to be done when your time is up, you will not be productive in your time.

In part 3, I address some small (but big) day to day refreshers that help you get through each day as it comes. These refreshers help you feel your best in the day to day. They may not address your biggest need, however, they can help prevent your biggest need from getting bigger. :)

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Tips for Goal Success

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Goals Pictures, Images and Photos

This week I’ve written on

Why Set Goals? 3 Reasons

3 Steps for Making Goals

and

Naming 2011

Now I want to give you a few tips for success. These are by no means exhaustive. But they can help in getting you closer to where you want to be.

1. Write it down – everywhere!

Put it on your cell phone banner. In your planner. In your journal. Hang it on the fridge. Tape it on the bathroom mirror. Do whatever you have to do to constantly have that goal staring you in the face so that it can always be in the front of your mind.

My one word for 2011 is joy. Joy will interweave every other goal I make this year, so I am going to put that in many places I visit often. My own blog will be a reminder for me! Underneath joy is my quiet time, which is added into my everyday schedule so it is not forgotten. Yes, it is very useful to schedule in a quiet time. :)

2. Be intentional.

Make steps to reach your goal. Don’t just let things happen. No fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants goal reaching. Be intentional about making it happen.

My first goal is to make my quiet time with Jesus my top priority. Without this time, everything else falls apart. It is a must, therefore it is at the top of the list. So I need to take intentional steps to get to bed early, so I can wake up for prayer and not overfill my evenings so I have that time to read the Bible. I have added these into my schedule so they will not be forgotten. This is a practical and tangible goal.

Each month I will also be working on an area of heart change. January will be joy in my speech & tone of voice. In order to remember to speak with joy, I will have to have it posted everywhere and keep it in the forefront of my mind. Meditate on it. Read scriptures on it. Pray on it. Think about it — a lot. It is my top priority over everything else.

3. Don’t give up.

This might be the most difficult tip, but it will sooo be worth it. If you mess up, pick up again and keep going. Don’t allow imperfections to stop you. Pray for strength when things get tough. I can almost guarantee that Satan will be working against you as you take on these endeavors. Fight back and don’t let him win.

The Bible says,Let us not grow weary in well-doing, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.” Galatians 6:9

This passage speaks on the fruit of the Spirit. Somewhere in our goals lies a fruit that we are chasing after. Which one is yours? Many times we have to fight for it.

4. Reflect regularly and often.

I highly recommend and encourage you to get a journal and write down these goals. Reflect on them. Write verses next to them for inspiration. Write how it’s going; your failures, your victories. Write how God reveals himself through the journey. It doesn’t have to be long. But do it regularly and often. It will give you some indications on anything that needs tweaking or prayer. It will also make a keepsake for future generations. :) The days come and the days go…leave a trace.

One last tip:

5. Expect it to be challenging.

All too often I think we have this notion that things will always come easy. We can play it out in our minds, however, we cannot foresee the obstacles that stand in our way or cause delays, detours, or distractions. Push through them. This tip goes along with not giving up, but before you even begin you need to recognize this will likely not be easy. Go in expecting a fight.

Tomorrow I will share my goals for the year 2011. Will you join me?

Write it Down: Journaling

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Ever since I was in 5th grade, I’ve been an avid writer. I journal-ed,  wrote some poetry (usually sappy involving a boy), and wrote extremely long, more-like-a-book letters to friends.

After high school, all my writing pretty much fizzled out. I wrote a few prayer journals over the years, but that was the extent of it.

Then I came across a post at Heart of the Matter Online featuring Ann Voskamp. It was the first time I’d ever come across her name. At that time, she had begun a journaling series through her weekly meme, Walk With Him Wednesday. It was journaling like I’d never seen it before. It was visual and beautiful. Beyond inspiration. Breathtaking.

Thus began my journey…

I write short prayers (and sometimes long), I write verses, quotes, struggles, inspiration from other bloggers.

I try not to worry about organization as much as getting my thoughts down on paper. As of now, I have a beautiful collection of meanderings. A book of reflections I can look back on to see where my feet have been–where my heart and focus has been.

Thought’s from Ann (of A Holy Experience) on journaling:

Just a page, a place to place a day, so it won’t get lost in the dark. It is what journaling is: catching the light. Catching God filtering through your moments….so your soul can grow.

She goes on to say:

It’s a way of shining a beam into the dark and figuring out what’s going on in there, in the shadow’s of a soul, what’s happening on the day’s I’m overcast. I write because our words, like His, can be a lamp unto our paths.”

Might I encourage you to pen your thoughts as well?