Share the Joy

Remember when we talked about pruning your to-do list? Well, there is another way to keep your task load in good shape.

Keep in mind that responsibility doesn’t always mean doing it with your own hands.

  • If your time can be better spent elsewhere and your budget allows, use a grocery pick service or even delivery service.
  • You may like how your dishwasher loading system works, but would your call to love your children include training them in that particular chore and responsibility?

An excellent help in looking for delegation opportunities can be found in your husband and/or your boss. Taking a step back and getting a wider view can make a big change in your perspective. They see what you can’t, right in the middle of each day.

  • If your husband values your time more than a cooked-from-scratch meal (and, again, your budget allows), perhaps sandwiches or (relatively) healthy takeout should be in the weekly meal plan more often. A walk together before dinner might be a better use of your time.
  • Are you spending a large percentage of your day doing something that is really someone else’s responsibility or could be easily transferred? Check. Your boss may rather you do what only you can do. You may add more value and more excellent work by eliminating that task from your list.

Delegation can be good, not an automatic failure. Yes, this can take an investment in money or training, but the goal would be one less task for your every day and time freed up for what is most valuable and can serve God best with your time.

Cut It Loose

A to-do list can be a great tool. But like every great tool, it’s not magic. It does take skill to use and maintain excellent tools. How can we hone our skill set with this tool?

One way is pruning. When you look at your to-do list, if it doesn’t fit with your priorities, both daily and ultimate, and is not reasonable for the day or current situation, cut it loose. Chop it off. Let it go.

This will help keep you on point, staying on the path to which you have been called. Paying attention to your priorities in the little, daily tasks will help you as you make the best use of your time each day. There are many good things, but you cannot do EVERY good thing. Examine your list and make sure you are doing what is best.

If you have 12 things on your list, review them to see if some really don’t reflect love for God or for your neighbor or help you do either of those things.

  • Did you write it down initially because it sounded cool, but now you’re really not sure why it would be good to do? Cross it off and move on.
  • Are you adding items to make you feel productive or important? “Look how long my list is. I’m irreplaceable.” Let’s go back to your identity as a child of God only by the grace of God (Ephesians 2:8-10). Test your list in light of that truth.
  • Does your day look like everyone else’s because you feel you need to go with the flow? Just because a friend or even a reality TV star arranges fresh flowers for her home everyday, doesn’t mean that you must. (Your allergy-prone friend might even thank you for not!) Just because your neighbor does it, doesn’t mean you have to. You answer to God for your time and she for hers, and you can both hear “Well done” with task lists that don’t match. If there is no value other than peer pressure, get rid of it.

Pruning will also help you stop sabotaging yourself. Often we hang on to things that we will never actually do (and shouldn’t necessarily do) and repeat the failure loop. Set yourself up for success, true success. Bring glory to God in all that you do.

 

Keepin’ It Happy

We talk often about loving God and loving our neighbor. Today let’s talk about a specific neighbor — your husband. If you have one, loving him is a priority given to you. If you do not have one, you love your neighbors by encouraging those who are married to love their husbands well.

This love is shown in so many ways, every day, but today I’ll address one aspect only: love him by expressing how special he is to you.

Make a special time together. Remember how exciting it was to go on a date back when your lives weren’t completely entwined? You can’t go back, but you can still keep the spirit of that excitement alive in other ways. Even if family schedules are busy, you can make time for a shared interest weekly or monthly, or you can take 5-10 minutes to share undivided attention each day. Maybe a date night is part of your routine. Don’t let those just become a frantic trips to Sam’s Club with drive-thru on the way home. A little bit of lipstick and clean clothes goes a long way. Showing by your demeanor that the time is special, dedicated to your marriage, is important. We often need the concrete signals for both ourselves and the ones we are honoring.

Play with each other. In a good marriage, there’s no one else in the world with whom you can be quite as relaxed. Keep that fresh. Some times that may take effort, but it will be worth it. Take a deep breath, shake off the tension of the day, smile and then laugh! Laughter is good medicine, for your heart and your marriage. When the giggling and goofing off comes easily, treasure it.

I’ll admit, I was surprised at the bond that was created after our wedding by the times of joking or laughing with my husband. It is a benefit that can easily fall to the wayside in times of stress or too much routine, but don’t let it get left behind. The strength of your bond will help you through hard times, but it needs refreshing as you go.

Rest

You need rest.

No, really, you do.

And it needs to be regular rest, not just when you are forced into the hospital with a health crisis.

You need a regular cycle of hard work and quiet rest.

For one thing, it helps with a quiet life. Regular times of rest, at the proper times, bring down the overall activity level. That will help keep your life and schedule from spinning out of control. It gives your mind, body, and soul the refreshing you need to restore energy and keep going with the other responsibilities that do need to be done.

Primarily, though, you being willing to stop carrying the weight of the world and doing everything for everybody demonstrates dependence on God. Often we don’t stop moving because we are afraid the sky will fall if we stop holding it up. We aren’t holding it up, of course, but it is easy to act as if we were. And without proper rest, it is even easier to be ruled by our emotions and external triggers. In contrast, stopping frantic activity and just being — taking a deep breath, sitting and thinking, taking a nap, pausing to just catch up with a neighbor in the back yard, keeping a sabbath rest, not always working — will show our confidence in God’s sovereignty and constant care for us.

God set this tone of regular rest for us when he established the Sabbath day, when he set out the week. He knows us. He created us. He is such a good God providing good gifts.

So how can we love God? Sometimes it’s by taking a short rest in the middle of the day, doing our best to fill our responsibilities well AND knowing that He is in control of the universe so it’s safe to step away from our work in faith.

Mind is Like an Attic

Any Sherlock Holmes fans out there?

He was a bit of an oddball, yes, but some of the quirks have things worth thinking about.

“I consider that a man’s brain originally is like a little empty attic, and you have to stock it with such furniture as you choose. A fool takes in all the lumber of every sort that he comes across, so that the knowledge which might be useful to him gets crowded out, or at best is jumbled up with a lot of other things, so that he has a difficulty in laying his hands upon it. Now the skillful workman is very careful indeed as to what he takes into his brain-attic. He will have nothing but the tools which may help him in doing his work, but of these he has a large assortment, and all in the most perfect order. It is a mistake to think that that little room has elastic walls and can distend to any extent. Depend upon it there comes a time when for every addition of knowledge you forget something that you knew before. It is of the highest importance, therefore, not to have useless facts elbowing out the useful ones.” (Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, A Study in Scarlet)

The basic principle of being careful about with what we fill up our minds is valid. Do you know the ins and outs of the latest popular TV series, but have trouble remembering the story of Ruth? Have you tried out every hobby known to woman, but Scripture memorization would just be too much time and effort?

Our brains are limited (more some days than others, am I right?), and that makes every thing we learn or remember valuable. The key is whether the value of the mind-space matches the value of what we stocked in it.