I Peter 5:6-7, "Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you."
Getting 37 people in matching clothes and on the beach at the same time is a pretty big feat. But when I realized Cole was missing and Korie's mom was about to snap the photo, I panicked, ran to the front and "bombed" the picture until Cole could get there. Knowing my family, once the shutter sounded, I knew they would be gone and that we would never get that moment back!
Remember that classic 1970's Calgon TV commercial? If you're too young, let me enlighten you. The commercial shows a mother with chaos all around her who sinks into a peaceful bubble bath at the end of the day and ultimately forgets the worries of the world. For years, people I knew would say that phrase out loud when things were crazy (even me!), wishing that a simple soap could wash away the craziness that was engulfing them.
Implementing the above scripture is easier said than done, right? Right. I, myself, am caught up in the stresses and worries of saying "yes" too often. When I woke this morning to the knowledge of a cram-packed week ahead, I started feeling that all-too familiar nagging of you can't do this, Missy. It's too much. Maybe the nagging was worth listening to. Maybe not. Maybe it's the devil telling me to avoid the good things I have planned. But maybe it's God telling me to prioritize and actually say no to a few things this week. Which is it? Spending time with God will definitely shed some light. Top priority. AND listening to godly wisdom. So, I read some scripture, spent some time in prayer and then searched the internet for some encouragement. I ran across this article on lifeway.com that I'd like to share with you. It spoke volumes to me. I am not alone! Please read this short blog post below and be blessed this week!
Feeling overcommitted, overloaded, and overwhelmed? Prioritize.
We spend 10 percent more than we have - and it no longer matters if one is talking about time, energy, or money. We work hard, play hard, and crash hard.
The day had spun away faster than the last squares of toilet paper on the end of a roll. The clock announced my children's bedtime, and I couldn't be happier. I scanned my endless to-do list, wondering if I could squeeze in just a few more tasks that night."Mom, can I do one more thing?" Leslie, my 10-year-old daughter, asked.
"Make it quick," I sighed.
A few minutes later, Leslie gave me a hand-drawn grid. The days of the week were written in perfect, fifth-grade cursive. "This is my schedule, and I'm stressed out.
I have no free time."
It was my daughter's voice, but did I hear her right? "My schedule?" "Stressed out?" Did these words come from a child's mouth?
Leslie ran her fingers over the squares. "Look, I have basketball two days a week and piano lessons on Tuesdays, not counting daily practice, then ..."
As she continued, I realized her brothers' schedules weren't much better. No wonder our lives were hectic. Meshing my kids' daily activities with my own was like trying to shove another dirty pan into an already full dishwasher - no matter how things were rearranged, they weren't going to fit! My daughter and I discussed what we could cut.
"Let's wait on swimming lessons," I said. "And cut art class altogether. That will free up Tuesdays and Fridays for just hanging out."
I noted relief on Leslie's face as she erased those items from her schedule.
"Thanks, Mom." She said as she scurried off to bed. "I feel better already."
With the sound of 10-year-old feet padding down the hall, I turned to my own calendar, recalling something I'd read earlier that day: "We spend 10 percent more than we have - and it no longer matters if one is talking about time, energy, or money," writes Richard A. Swenson, M.D., author of The Overload Syndrome (Navpress). "We work hard, play hard, and crash hard."
The relief on Leslie's face made me realize how far I'd let our priorities get out of whack. We were overcommitted, overloaded, and overwhelmed. It was time to make changes.
First Things First: God
When asked how we should set priorities, most Christians will give the Sunday School answer: "God first, then family, then ministry, then everything else." But in day-to-day living, how often do we practice this?
As a young mom, I was convicted of the lack of time I spent with God. I knew I should read the Bible, and I wanted to. The problem was matching my desire with the practicalities of daily life. Searching for a solution, I realized my only quiet moments occurred before my family woke up. Determined, I set my alarm for 5 a.m. I was tired the next day, but I was spiritually nourished after a time of prayer and reading.
My friend Janet Holm McHenry, author of Prayerwalk: Becoming a Woman of Prayer, Strength, and Discipline (Waterbrook Press), has developed time with God in her own way. Janet struggled to set correct priorities. She was depressed, had gained weight, and lacked time alone with God. She decided to tackle all three problems by praying while she walked the streets of her town.
"I could never claim that verse, ‘The joy of the Lord is my strength' because I never knew what joy was," Janet says. "Now I know that joy is being totally centered on God. And I get that daily center as I prayerwalk."
As Janet and I discovered, taking time to seek God and to ask His opinion about daily activities helps us rearrange priorities to fit His agenda.
"God will tell you what is front and center today," says Jill Briscoe, author of Living a Purpose-full Life (Waterbrook Press). "Are you listening?"
Next Things Next: Family
Family has a way of bringing true character to light. I never realized how much I enjoyed order, cleanliness, and marking things off my list until my kids stripped those things away. When my first child, Cory, was a toddler, I sorted toys into categories: cars with cars, bears with bears, blocks with blocks. I taught a women's Bible study, baby-sat when others were in a bind, and accepted extra work assignments.
When children numbers two and three came along, I knew I was facing a losing battle. It was impossible to keep the house clean, please my friends, and carve out a career in the writing industry. My frustration was evident.
Seeking the Lord, I soon realized the problem wasn't my children's neediness; it was my heart. What was my motivation for keeping a spotless home? For leading a women's group? For turning in multiple writing assignments before the deadline? My motivation had been the approval of others. I wanted to prove I could do it all - and well.
That's when I became aware of Ecclesiastes 4:6, which says, "Better one handful with tranquillity than two handfuls with toil and chasing after the wind." That's me, I realized. I had two hands full, chasing after perfection I'd never achieve. I needed to slow down and enjoy my kids. I knew the day would come when a game of Memory with Mom wouldn't be so fun, and I didn't want to look back at their childhood years with regret.
Too Much Too Soon
The flip side of too little quality time is getting our children involved in too much outside the home. With so many enriching, educational activities available, it's hard to say no.
For many years my kids were only allowed to participate in one activity per year. This grew harder as they got older. I didn't want to be the "bad" mom who refused to let her children play sports, but I wasn't doing my kids any favors by involving them in too much.
In a society that praises accomplishment, children are often forced to take on roles they're not comfortable with. Kids are compelled to grow up sooner than they want to - by parents who worry they'll be left behind. As parents, we should never be fooled to think we can ever "keep up." In every area of a child's life, there will always be someone brighter, faster, or better. There's nothing wrong with wanting our children to be their best, but often this "best" becomes detrimental when we push our kids to do too much too soon.
Eliminate and Concentrate
Ministry seems to be the hardest area for Christian families to balance. Many worthy causes seek our attention, but when it comes to deciding which to pursue, the goal should be to eliminate and concentrate.
"It's OK to have limits. It is OK not to be all things to all people all of the time all by ourselves," Swenson says.
"You want to manage your time? You eliminate clutter and concentrate on your goals. You want to disciple? You eliminate crowds and concentrate on a few people," says Anne Ortlund, author of Disciplines of a Beautiful Woman (Word Publishing). And if I could add one thing it would be: You want to make a lasting impact on your children and your world? You reach out to others as a family.
For many years my husband and I struggled to balance numerous church commitments. He was on the building committee and the finance committee and was involved in different men's groups. I assisted with children's worship, taught Sunday School, and led Bible studies. We were heading in different directions, and our children were forced to tag along or be left behind.
As the craziness of this lifestyle overwhelmed us, my husband and I looked for other ways we could serve. We dropped all our committees and decided instead to minister as a family. Today we focus on two areas: children's ministry and assisting in our local crisis pregnancy center. Together, we enjoy working and serving as we perform skits or wash baby clothes. We also share a common bond as we see lives transformed.
Just Do It
Are you feeling overcommitted, overloaded, and overwhelmed? Get over it. You can make changes, especially when you realize getting your priorities in order makes you available to God and to those most important in your life. Just focus on what's most important, concentrate on key people, and use ministry time as family time.