Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The Days Seem Short - I Gotta Have a Plan!

A couple of months ago, when I started blogging again, I told myself that I would keep it up and contribute regularly.

Insert awkward pause...

I guess I can't multi-task as well as I sometimes think I can!  

These days are busy.  BUSY!  Can I get an "Amen!" from any other moms out there?  I've always thought I was a decent manager of time, but I'll be honest; it is a struggle for me.  

In our home, we aren't to the point of being in the car every day.  Buut even on the days we are home all day (I love those, by the way), I struggle to fit everything in.  There is so much I want to do, and there are so many important things I don't want to miss.

I have to have a plan!  This is something I pray about often, because I, by nature, am not a routine oriented person.  Too much routine actually bores me.  I'm also not a planner.  Maybe these are character flaws - I don't know.  But either way, my inadequacies in these areas do not change the fact that I have four small people and school and meals and housecleaning and laundry and sports practices and ministry opportunities and church and dance rehearsals and music lessons and dates with my hubby...

...and other things I like to do such as Bible study and blogging and sewing and getting my pictures uploaded to Shutterfly (and actually ordering them) and reading a book and exercising and gardening and so on.  

Planning and a bit of routine is a must for me.  I'm sure you can relate! :)

This is such an area of weakness for me.  My natural tendency is to wake up in the morning and say to myself, "What will I do today?"  And I could do that.  But of course that would minimize our productivity and ultimately make me miserable (and it has, on several occasions)!

So as I have prayed about this for years, the Lord has helped me so much.  In the spirit of practicality, I wanted to share a few things that have helped me.

1.  Get up early.

I am not a "morning person".  In fact, I am a night person!  But a few years ago, I was challenged to get up at 5:30 a.m. and have Bible study.  Why 5:30?  Because that was a time that would be well before my children get up.  Now I'm addicted.  I'm addicted to 5:30. Well, actually, because routine rubs me the wrong way, it is sometimes 5:00 and sometimes 5:40.  Sometimes it's even 6:00.  But, no matter the numerals on the clock, it is before the kids are out of bed.  Precious time!  Sometimes there are days when I oversleep by a lot.  I hate oversleeping!  It really does make a difference in my day when I get up early and have that time with my Heavenly Father, alone.

2.  Start being productive early in the day.

When I say this, I'm thinking about things like taking a shower and starting laundry (among other things).  I'm not being legalistic and saying this is a MUST, I'm simply sharing what helps ME.  For some reason, I'm more productive when I'm not in my pajamas (unless we are having designated pajama day).  And I don't have that kind of hair that is tame in the morning.  So when I have made myself presentable early in the day, it just helps me!  I don't know why!  I'm just weird like that!  I'm sorry for shouting so much!

3.  Weekly planning.

This includes lesson plans, meal plans, when I'm going to grocery shop, etc.  Now, I know this isn't revolutionary to many of you.  Probably this is normal behavior for most of you moms.  But as I stated before, this is not natural for me.  I have to be intentional.  So, this is just in case there is a mom reading this who is a non-planner type of person like me!  It really does help our family life to be more calm and relaxed because there is {gasp} a PLAN!

4.  Put the kids to work.

Children are capable of so many things.  My issue here is taking the time to train them.  That takes patience and diligence.  But that's really all it takes.  When kids are trained in daily chores, they can contribute to family life, it relieves the workload from the parents in many things and they are learning skills they will use for the rest of their lives.  

You know, as wives and mothers, we are the managers of our homes.  Our husbands are the leaders, but when we take an approach in our homes to be orderly in the day to day living, things are so much more "friendly".  Even with writing this blog, I must be intentional, and actually schedule a time to do it.  Otherwise, it gets lost in the shuffle.  But there are certain things that we can't afford to lose in the shuffle, such as Bible study, prayer, discipleship of our children and the nurturing of our marriages.  The time passes so quickly, time that we cannot get back.  So in these hectic days, if scheduling everything is what it takes to fit in the important stuff, then so be it.

I have often been guilty of saying or thinking, "I need more than twenty-four hours in a day!"

No, I don't.  If I did, God would have given it to me.  My days must be ordered according to His Word, placing Him first above all.  Ephesians 5:15-17 says,

"Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is."

A wise woman recognizes that time is precious, and seeks to use her time (and the time of her family) for the glory of God alone.  He will grant us wisdom, we only need to ask for it.  Now that's a plan!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The God of All Comfort

"I would go to the deeps a hundred times to cheer a downcast spirit; it is good for me to have been afflicted, that I might know how to speak a word in season to one that is weary."

~Charles Spurgeon

I can't say that I've gone through the same things you have been through.  I won't say that my circumstances are better than yours, and I won't say that my circumstances are worse.  No matter what may appear on the outside, the fact is that everybody suffers on some level.  


Because we live in a fallen world.

We all have bad days, we all suffer from trials.  And if you are a fellow believer, you can rejoice with me in the fact that our suffering is not in vain!  He has purposed it for a reason.  We can believe that life consists of more than ourselves; that there is a greater purpose.  It is within that promise that we find Hope.  

If I believed that my life was all about my happiness and my comfort, then any suffering that came my way (and it would come my way) would impart to me complete misery and despondency.  

But because our Savior is more powerful than even death, I can believe that my life on this earth is not where it ends for me.  Abundant life awaits me after death.

But, what about while I'm here?  As a Christian, what do I do with the trials I go through while I'm still living?

I can rejoice in them (James 1:2-3)
...because I can trust that God will use them to make me more like Christ.  As a Christian, I want to please God more than anything, because of what He has done for me by saving me.  I want to become more like His Son, who was the only perfect human who ever lived.  I want to live a life of thanks unto Him for the salvation He has given to me, a wretched sinner.  

I can be thankful in them (1 Thessalonians 5:18) 
...because nothing can happen to me which isn't allowed by God (Matthew 10:28-29).  Since this is true, I can know that He will give me the strength to endure.  Even the death of His own Son, Jesus, would not have happened if He hadn't willed it.  I can honestly give Him praise, because I know that He is sovereign and is in complete control.

I can use them to comfort others (2 Corinthians 1:3-7)
...because of the great comfort He gives me in the midst of the trial.  This may not come for a while, but it may come.  Whatever evil we may face in life, we must never forget that God is good.  Suffering is not wasted.  It will accomplish His purpose and can be used to encourage others who may walk the same road at a later time.  That is one reason why anger and bitterness must never take root in our lives!

I think most would agree that life is interesting.  It is a journey full of joy, milestones, wonder and yes, trials.  And certainly this isn't a comprehensive commentary on the afflictions that we bear in this life.  But rather, these are thoughts to consider - merely the beginning, really.  God has packed the Bible full of instruction and promises dealing with the circumstances of our lives on earth!  The quote by Spurgeon at the beginning challenges me, encourages me and frankly, causes me to reflect on whether it is true of me.  I sure hope it is, because it is this sort of thinking and attitude that truly glorifies the Lord in our trials.