Wednesday, October 9, 2013

A Time for Everything Part 2: When Your To-Do List Isn't Necessarily Your Want-To-Do List

So. I planned to write a short series about "time" this week but one very ironic obstacle is standing in my way. Guess what it is? 


And that's okay. Because the obstacles that have blocked my writing this week are not obstacles at all. They are my greatest loves in this life: husband and children and home. Sitting at their appointments, folding their clothes, cooking their meals, watching their games, helping with their homework, shopping for their food, paying their bills, being extra mindful of their struggles, having tough conversations...

Perhaps your week is just as glamorous? 

Sunday evening my husband and I had a much-needed discussion about this life of service in the home. We both serve our family in different ways and sometimes I need to be reminded of the beauty and priority of mothering and home-keeping and loving my husband. These roles don't define me and carrying them out doesn't come naturally. 

{Why don't they offer a marriage and mothering major in college?} 

Sometimes it even feels like a cosmic joke that I am perhaps least equipped and gifted for the roles that consume most of my energy and time. Now that my kids are all in school, you'd think it would be easier. It is and it isn't. If anything, I now have the responsibility to live these roles like I've needed to all along because for the first time, I have the time. I have far fewer excuses to be slack. Dang it. 

But time has a way of tricking me into thinking that I can boss it around more than I really can. When selfishness has the upper hand, I'm prone to resent the constant "intrusions" on my own agenda, as if the needs of others are pesky gnats I swat away. And these "others" I'm referring to are actually those in my family, embarrassing as that is to admit.

But the beauty of knowing and practicing one's priorities, something I'm admittedly terrible at practicing, is that I can relax when the secondary things {like writing and reflection} don't happen.

This week I'm knee-deep in field-tripping and carpooling and cookie-delivering and clothes-sorting and appointment-keeping and that's just the beginning. Some weeks force the calendar margins to stretch more than others and that's where we are. I've set my alarm 45 minutes earlier each morning with the hope that I can serve with a bit more love and leisure before my kids leave for school and my husband is off for work. 

When I forget that this is my more important work, I fret and stress. But when I know that nothing and no one except for God are above loving my family well, it's okay. When I forget to see the beauty and sacredness of the daily-ness, I struggle. But when I receive the rhythms and responsibilities as God-authored, I'm surprised by gratitude, even in the midst of real need.

Not having time to write about "time" in the way I'd like is perhaps a gift. I'm invited to survey my to-do list, which is often my "want-to-do list," and know that meeting the daily needs of those under this roof mirrors the work that God does for us. 

He delights to meet our daily needs and never begrudges the task. And because we're made in His image and alive with His power, we can find delight instead of mere duty as we serve those who need us in the day-to-day.

So in light of this truth, I leave you with wise words penned by Kathleen Norris, author of one of my favorite books, The Quotidian Mysteries: Laundry, Liturgy and "Women's Work."

The Bible is full of evidence that God's attention is indeed fixed on the little things. But this is not because God is a Great Cosmic Cop, eager to catch us in minor transgressions, but simply because God loves us--loves us so much that the divine presence is revealed even in the meaningless workings of daily life. It is in the ordinary, the here-and-now, that God asks us to recognize that the creation is indeed refreshed like dew-laden grass that is "renewed in the morning" {Ps 90:5}, or to put it in more personal and also theological terms, "our inner nature is being renewed every day" {2 Cor 4:16}. Seen in this light, what strikes many modern readers as the ludicrous attention to details in the book of Leviticus, involving God in the minutiae of daily life--all the cooking and cleaning of a people's domestic life--might be revisioned as the very love of God. A God who cares so much as to desire to be present to us in everything we do.

If today or this week or this season feels dedicated to things that don't measure high on the desirability meter, may God grant you a "revisioning" to glimpse the marvelous in the mundane. 

As each day brings new messes as well as new mercies, may you see the reflection of renewal in both. 

Whatever today holds, whether it feels woefully empty or much too full, I pray that His love and presence will be manna for your spirit.


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  1. " . . . when I receive the rhythms and responsibilities as God-authored, I'm surprised by gratitude, even in the midst of need."
    " . . . may God grant you a "revisioning" to glimpse the marvelous in the mundane."

    Ah, dear one, you have become Ann's (just three letters, without even an "e") sister. Remember the soap bubble at the kitchen sink?


  2. "But when I receive the rhythms and responsibilities as God-authored, I'm surprised by gratitude, even in the midst of real need." The needs in my house are so great! How can one mom keep up? But somehow God gives me exactly what I need each day, with lots of reminders to be thankful in the midst of those (often pressing) responsibilities. I'm learning to let the rhythm of each day flow as it's supposed to-hard for me to do, but it makes life so much sweeter.

  3. Girl, it seems your week is about like mine. My daily round trip to school is 80 (yes 80) miles per day. Two hours in the car. Plus the laundry folding, housekeeping, and trying to nap occasionally plus consulting and photography. This week I'm just tired. I miss you. Apple Orchard photos killed me. Lisa and Julie T had them up too. I love you....julie


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