Then other things came about.
First, something came up that started requiring 16 hours a week of my time. It absorbed a lot of my additional margin.
Then, some specific needs for one of our children, requiring appointments and evaluations and such.
And last, a move. Out of the blue. (We've known for a couple years that our current house is not forever (we've been wanting a house with a guest room for when my parents and our friends come to visit)). A house went up for sale in our community, a beauty, in our price range, that fits all of our 'must-haves,' and we leapt!
These things, on top of the start of baseball season for two kids and Bookguy's travel schedule and piano and violin lessons and homework and all sorts of every day things, I suddenly have the fullest plate ever.
So I am responding by doing what we all should do every once in a while. I am revisiting my priorities.
We all have priorities. Some of us have written them down, and some of us just know them in our gut. And all of us can, at times, get our priorities out of whack. Sometimes we can start living outside our priorities and not even know it. Sometimes patterns develop, and occasionally compromises are made. Sometimes we are even tempted by other (very good) things, and we are accidentally led astray.
Steve Covey says: "The key is not to prioritize what's on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities."
I sit down this morning, and I am checking myself.
- I must be spending time with God every day. Apart from Him I can do nothing. If I remain in him, I will bear much fruit--fruit that will last. Spending time with God each day means reading my bible, praying, and meditating.
- I must be investing in my children and my marriage. They are my primary ministry. He has entrusted me these beautiful children. I only have a decade left with my children in the home. Things argue and fight and compete and demand my attention but they are not more important than my family. They are squeaky and loud and distracting, but not top priority.
- I must be taking care of myself. I need to sleep and I need to eat and I need to exercise. Not obsessively or selfishly, but I am good to no one if I'm tired and hungry and sluggish. (I historically go to bed around 12 or 1 am and I hit a wall (only recoverable with a monster dose of caffeine) around 3 pm.)
So that is what I'm going through, what I'm learning. I don't know if it resonates with you or not. But if you find you are flustered and running and not sure how to get done all that you should get done (or want to get done), I want to encourage you to consider re-visiting your priorities. What's important to you? What's non-negotiable? What can you trim? What must you say no to, at the expense of keeping your priorities? What must you give to God for HIM to accomplish because you simply can't?
"But Karen," you say. "If I don't do it NOBODY else will!" "If I quit that responsibility, I will let that person down!" "If I don't stay up all night working on that project, it will be late and my client will be angry!" "If I say no, another opportunity like that may not come around ever again!" "If I don't get out that fundraising letter or launch that website or finalize that project, I won't make the budget, or make the sales quota, or secure that endorsement!"
To those fears I say, not everything is riding on you. There are other forces at work--miraculous ones, actually--that have authority over time and motivations and money. Set your priorities, work diligently and efficiently, be faithful, and let go.
One of my favorite romantic comedies is the movie One Fine Day (with Michelle Pfeiffer and George Clooney). (Isn't it sooo good?!) At the end of the movie, Michelle Pfeiffer, running around frantic, agrees to have drinks with some colleagues 'on the run' on the way to her son's soccer game. He's at the window making fish faces while she is trying to pitch a design concept. Flustered and distracted, she has a moment of clarity when her priorities come into check. She sets down her cocktail, gives up diplomacy, and says this: "I have a child and he has a soccer game in twenty minutes. If he's late, he doesn't get the trophy. And because I'm here with you, he's probably going to be late. But what gets to me more than anything is, instead of crying about it, he's out there with a big, old smile blowing fish faces at us. Gentleman, if you're smart, you'll want me as much for my dedication and ability as for the fact that I am going to ditch you right now and I am going to run like hell across town so that my kid knows that what matters to me most is him."
I know it isn't always that easy. But we do have choice. We should run like hell after our priorities.
We are in this together. Thank you for reading my blog and for all your warm thoughts and emails. You encourage me.